Monday, 31 October 2011

Prelude

Anticipation - it can be wonderful; it can be terrifying.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow morning at 5AM for me. I went to bed at 9PM last night and was up at 5AM this morning. I've slept poorly this weekend - in part lying in bed recycling thoughts about my novel. I bought several note pads on Saturday and some wonderful Stabilo Fineliner pens. They write smoothly on my A5 project notebook at three in the morning when I can't sleep...

I'm not going to write any long blog posts in November but I aim to post a daily progress report. Template as follows:

Todays word count:
Total words:

A few words on how it is going?

I would like to encourage other NaNo’ers and might share some links.

Some people share their novels as they create them. I doubt that will work for me but I may occasionally share a passage.

Twenty two weeks days in November. 2,300 words a day. Tell my story. And that is it.

If I write every day, then I am a writer. 
If I keep writing then I will finish my novel. 
When I finish my novel then I am an author.

You break your goals down; begin working on them; make mistakes, fail; fail again; learn from those mistakes and failures; keep trying and one day you can achieve whatever you set your heart to achieve.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Going to war!

I have found myself getting quite militant over the Autumn.

I hate injustice. Hate it with a passion. I do not like seeing other people being victimized and do not like being in any situation where I feel an individual or organization has stolen from me or withheld from me something I was entitled to.

As a follower of Christ, I'm very aware of his teaching on forgiveness. I understand that when I forgive both I and the person who has wronged me are released from long term bitterness and suffering which I suspect - but cannot yet prove - can result in physical illness.

I do not subscribe to an interpretation some have made that all Christians should turn the other cheek and allow evil men to walk all over us in any situation where we are wronged. I see no evidence anywhere that Christ lived his own life allowing other people to wrong him or those around him - instead I see at the very end of his life: he lived up to his own teaching by turning his cheek as he was beaten by men who chose evil over good and he allowed himself to be killed in our place.


What Would Jesus Do about the petty injustices I perceive around me? I strongly suspect he is telling me right now to get a grip! I doubt Jesus would have a bank account or mortgage if he lived today. He would live simply and so avoid all the problems that many of us face.

As a follower of Christ - I often get it wrong. I'm not yet getting a grip and instead have gone to war with my mortgage company and an organization that gives interest free loans to enable people to install renewable energy products.

I will name no names at present - I'm conscious that the latter conflict may just be a misunderstanding, even though suspicious and irritating.

We signed up to get Solar Panels installed. The cost: £9,250. Money we do not have. We applied for two loans, one with the un-named organization, the other with a high street bank. The high street bank approved our loan for £7,500 and gave us the money within a week. Un-named took a month to tell me I was a credit risk and they had declined my application.

As I wrote, it may just be a misunderstanding but it has turned into a twisty saga just begging to be blogged about. More later...

The former conflict - I claimed back MPPI (Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance). I did so myself, ignoring the dozens of companys claiming only they could assist me. They were all wrong. Anyone who has paid MPPI can claim it back themselves as it was mis-sold for many years.

I've spent a lot of time writing letters this week that possibly could have been better spent writing or editing my novel. Or preparing for NaNoWriMo. I won't have time in November to fight these battles.


Dan, you asked what happened to our roof... After we signed up for Solar Panels I thought I better get the roof checked out. Turns out we needed a new one!

Cracked and holed tiles come off:


Tiles, battons and felt end up here:


 Somewhere in this chaos is hope...


Thursday, 27 October 2011

NaNoWriMo prep - Short novels

After I signed up for NaNoWriMo I quickly felt the need to justify what I was doing. A 50,000 word novel feels like a cheat. I had and still am aiming for 100,000 words with Fallen Warriors and I know many novels I enjoy reading come in at 250,000 plus.

I thought - why not see if I can find some recognised and celebrated novels that are less than 50,000 words?

To Kill A Mockingbird - everyone has heard of that, right? I remember it being an easy read; a short novel, right?

Wrong! Over 120,000 words!

I used Amazon Look Inside to allow me to count words on a page and then multiply by pages in the novel. Maybe the version I checked has been re-written...

Undaunted I checked another classic:
Of Mice and Men (Pocket Penguin Classics)
Average of ten words per line
28 lines per page
Paperback: 128 pages
35,840 words in total

Now we're talking! I studied this at school. I love the Robert Burns quote in the title and still get goose bumps thinking about the ending.

Time to check another one:
Enemy Mine
Average of ten words per line
35 lines per page
Paperback: 96 pages
33,600 words in total

Stormin! (I have to say I didn't enjoy Enemy Mine as much this summer when I re-read it. I have a memory as a teenager of deeply empathising with the characters but as an adult I found it quite shallow...) Still, that's two novels I have enjoyed (at some point in my life) that come in well under 50,000 words!

I'm hereby revising goal 36: To have written a 50,000 word novel in November 2011. (What's the point in having goals if you can't occasionally change them;)

Hold me accountable folks!

P.S. I wrote this last week, before contractors arrived to remove the roof from our house and the project I'm involved with at work hit new levels of stress. Is it physically, mentally and emotionally possible to complete NaNoWriMo while supervising construction work on your home and working full time, evenings and occasional weekends?

I can't quit now - I haven't even started yet!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

NaNo pep talks

I discovered the NaNoWriMo pep talks archive today. Some good stuff in there - some even by authors I've heard of and whose books I like!

"...it’s always best to write the story that is currently strongest inside you, the one that won’t go away, regardless of its genre or marketability. If you are true to your inner vision, believe in the reality of your story and write the book you want, you will bring it to life." Garth Nix

"You are the best audience for your own work. If you would absolutely love a character like the one you are writing about, if you adore books like the one you are working on, then you are going to know how to make the book appealing—write it like you were the person who was going to read it. Remember the fun bits, the juicy bits, the stuff you linger over in other books—the good stuff." Holly Black

"Polish your jealousy to a high shine—like the chrome of a well-loved Mustang.
My jealousy took the form of the phrase “two-book deal with Dutton.” My student, Sharon Mitchell, who went on to become #2 on the African American Bestseller’s list for her first novel Nothin’ But the Rent, had just gotten a two-book deal with Dutton. I hadn’t. I was her teacher. I’d been at this, seemingly forever. She was a psychologist, dabbling in the novel. This phrase haunted me: “two-book deal with Dutton, two-book deal with Dutton.” Luckily, I couldn’t shake it." Julianna Baggott

"Stop using a new story idea (or whatever excuse you’ve come up with) to avoid the work you still have to do on your current work-in-progress!" Meg Cabot

Uh - too late! Fallen Warriors will not end of the the milk crate of shame... but The Great Scottish Land Grab is currently my W.I.P.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Growing weed

I harvested my chilli plants a while back and have been drying them out in our kitchen. I finally got round to readying them for storing this month and decided to save some of the seeds to see if I could grow more plants from seed that I'd grown.


I took some of our home produced compost and planted a dozen seeds in the tray you can see below along with a plum seed and some lemon seeds - just to see what would happen. I've taken the tray into work and now have this sitting on my desk - far from a window but I'm hoping there is still sufficient light to allow the seeds to germinate. It has taken a few days but you might just be able to see some green shoots... It may just be weeds from our compost but if weeds can sprout - so can chillis!



I find this whole growing food to eat concept quite attractive. Our local Tesco had a sale of seed packets after the summer and I picked up packets of pepper seeds. We recycle a lot of plastic and tin containers and so I have kept some back to see if I can make use of them myself. This weekend I planted the remaining chilli seeds and the pepper seeds and now have them sitting on our window sill - warming in the winter sun :)



Monday, 24 October 2011

NaNoWriMo Perp

I was told this year to keep a note of mistypes.

Perp is a good one, completely accidental and yet it conjours up an instant image of US TV cop shows - "Got to find the perp' Captain, before he strikes again..."

Great link on the blog of the people who run NaNo last week on how important pacing is to a story.


Managed 1,190 words in an hour this morning - that's more like it!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Grinding The Crack

Goal 75: Successfully and Safely parachute jump

While I've said I may leave this goal till last, that was until a friend showed me this clip yesterday: Jeb Corliss - Grinding The Crack



I have no plan and no targets for this but at some point I want to try para-gliding and work my way up to jumping off a really tall mountain...

The stunning visuals in the above clip are tempered by this article. The section on fatalities and their causes especially...

Still, I have always wanted to fly... (Goal number 5)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

NaNoWriMo fears

05:30 I was awake but unwilling to get out of bed. Waking up before my 6AM alarm is a good sign though that my body clock is slowly beginning to adjust.

06:00 Out of bed at the alarm, put on my dressing gown, wrap a blanket around me and grab my laptop before heading downstairs. Frost on the shed roof this morning.

06:08 Laptop booted and I'm typing this... Decaf coffee made (Should I get Decaf filter coffee for November? Maybe I'm losing words by avoiding the caffeine kick?)

I have a problem - I have no idea what happens next... The story I'm working on this week - my original idea was inspired by seeing a strange rock formation that looked to me like a monster. There was no story, no characters, no plot. Just a memory - and a few photos - of a strange looking cliff face.

This week I've created four characters, introduced them and now, today, have brought some of my characters to an encounter with the rock monster. But I don't know what they will do or it will do or even if it is real...

When I've written stories before and hit that point where I didn't know what happened next I've just taken some thinking time. Left the story and got on with my life until I got inspiration. But I'm not going to be able to do that in November. I think I've only just realised that I somehow need to produce 2,300 words every morning - regardless of whether I know what happens next or not.

Sure I have a basic plot now and twenty or so potential chapter ideas - but I'm going to need to make each one work and am going to have to work hard to keep writing.

By 07:05 I had written 893 words this morning. Not enough. I still have to up my game.

Have you completed NaNoWriMo or forced yourself to write despite everything and anything holding you back? How did you do it?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

NaNoWriMo prep - whose idea was this?

Oh yeah, mine.

06:00 alarm goes off - Casting Crowns - The Word Is Alive...

06:06 crawl out of warm bed and carry laptop down to cold kitchen. Why? Why am I doing this? Oh yeah, I want to complete a novel. I'm in training.

06:12 Kettle is boiled - do I have decaf or full caff? Laptop is booted and I'm now typing - even if it is just procrastination... Okay, decaf - for now.

06:14 Story I'm working on this week is opened in new window. Time to start... Goal is 1,150 words in 45 minutes...

06:17 (Idea - put coffee percolator on timer - when I have to get up at 5am I really don't want to be wasting time!)

06:43 Okay, I've made a start but a slow one. My favourite youngest daughter has joined us for breakfast - oh yeah, my wife is now up too, getting ready for work. Maybe time to have some breakfast?
How am I ever going to write 2,300 words first thing in the morning?

06:53 Youngest daughter can talk for Scotland. Trying to write while I become increasingly aware of yabber proving difficult. Oh, wait, they've gone. Need to get back in the groove.

07:00 622 words in 45 minutes - not enough. Not nearly enough. So much for forced, speed writing. I seem to be getting slower every day. I need to speed up, not slow down!

07:17 907 words and I really need to stop now, have breakfast and get the kids ready to go to child care.

I've set up a new profile on the NaNoWriMo site. You can now see the name of my NaNo novel and read a short synopsis.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

NaNoWriMo prep - 14 days to go

Two weeks to go till National Novel Writing Month kicks off!

Have you ever thought or said you could write a novel?

Well, this is your chance! Sign up, buddy me (My user name is Frozbie) and lets get our novels written!

I spent last week working on my plot and doing some research. It felt quite weird not to be trying to write each morning. This week I've tried again to stick to a routine. Bed before 10PM, up at 6AM and then try and write 1,000 words in an hour.

I managed it yesterday: wrote 1,200 words towards a new story. This morning it was more of a struggle. Took me an hour and a quarter to reach 1,000.

I'm sure there will be hard days and good days in November. I'm going to need all the encouragement I can get. Look out friends on Facebook - NaNo spam heading your way soon!

I've already broached the thorny question of booking out the last Saturday in November as a 'just in case I'm 10,000 words short' day with my wonderful wife. I'm still aiming for 50,000 words written only using weekday mornings but it doesn't hurt to have a backup plan...

I have started exercising. Healthy body, healthy mind and all that. Went for a jog this weekend. Managed a mile before I had to switch to walking... I'd like to head out two or three times a week and gradually increase my distance. I'm sure it will help come November.

What are you doing to prepare for and help you achieve your goals?

Monday, 17 October 2011

This is my creed

We all believe in something, even those of us who deny having any kind of belief. My beliefs shape and influence what I write about. Your beliefs will likewise filter what you read and how you interpret it.

I believe you have a right to know what my main influences are - and they are summed up in the Petra song: Creed, from their album Beyond Belief.

I believe in God the Father - maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ His only Son
I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the Man of Sorrows bruised for iniquities
I believe in the Lamb who was crucified and hung between two thieves

I believe in the resurrection on the third and glorious day
And I believe in the empty tomb and the stone that the angel rolled away
He descended and set the captives free
And now He sits at God's right hand and prepares a place for me

(Chorus)
This is my creed - the witness I have heard
The faith that has endured
This truth is assured
Through the darkest ages past
Though persecuted, it will last
And I will hold steadfast to this creed

I believe He sent His Spirit to comfort and to reveal
To lead us into the truth and light, to baptize and to seal
I believe that He will come back the way He went away
And receive us all unto Himself, but no man knows the day

I believe He is the Judge of all men, small and great
The resurrected souls of men receive from Him their fate
Some to death and some to life, some to their reward
Some to sing eternal praise forever to our Lord

Words and music by Bob Hartman
(Creed Lyrics from stlyrics.com)
(Listen to Creed on YouTube)

Goal 31: To be and do all that God wants of me

Our beliefs will influence the goals we set for ourselves and even whether or not we achieve them.

If I believe that God made me to work and that by working hard I will honour him and fulfill my potential, this gives me purpose and drive. There have been times when I found myself wondering if there was any point to my existence. Motivating myself to do anything at those times was incredibly difficult.

I choose to believe God has given me purpose, that I matter to him. It's not always easy for me to believe this but it is worth the effort.

How do you find your beliefs affect your goals?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

My 100 goals now available on Kindle!

If you are one of the first people to subscribe to this blog through Amazon Kindle then welcome!

My 100 goals is a blog sharing my journey to complete my goals and encouraging you to set and achieve goals of your own.

In 2009 I was reading through Brian Tracy's book Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want - Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible and found a section where he discusses writing down 100 goals you want to achieve in your lifetime. He suggests that everyone he knows who has done this starts to see those goals achieved in a much shorter time than they thought possible.

I decided to give it a go and on 28 October 2009 I sat for two hours and wrote down 100 goals I want to achieve. You can read more about it here.

I'm a husband, a father; a writer and a Christian. I'm writing several novels and will be taking part in National Novel Writing Month this November - for the first time. I aim to complete a new 50,000 word novel. Maybe someday soon you can read it on the Kindle...;)

Do you have any dreams or aspirations that seem impossibly far from your reach? I'm not going to write that everything is possible but I have come to believe that we can achieve amazing things. You can increase your self-belief; develop methods to turn dreams into plans and action; you can set and achieve goals!

Using my head

I frequently take on too much. The title of this blog says it all: my 100 goals. I'm not pro-actively trying to achieve them all at once but sometimes I wonder if having so many goals does just sum up my character as having bigger dreams than my ability to make them happen.

Having completed my degree my next major goal is to finish a novel. Fallen Warriors was going to be top priority but I wasn't getting anywhere; wasn't even writing until I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Now my next major goal is completing NaNo: writing a new 50,000 word novel in November.

Along with that our family life has radically altered with my wife starting work again and adjusting my working pattern so I can drop our children off at school. It means I am working later; also that I am helping out more round the house.

It does not seem like the best time to be learning a new language!

Yet I'm determined to stick it out. Although it is a while since I last read it, Tony Buzan implies in Use Your Head that as people, we benefit from a rounded approach to learning and activities:

"...when people were encouraged to develop a mental area they had previously considered weak, this development, rather than detracting from other areas, seemed to produce a synergetic effect in which all areas of mental performance improved." Buzan, T. (1991) Use your head, page 17

Sleep and exercise are two areas I really need to work on over the next three weeks in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I need a plan.

How do you ensure you can achieve all you are capable of?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Acer means To Do!

Goal 27: To learn Spanish and speak it


I was struggling to learn the Spanish for 'to do' last week. I was up to CD seven of twelve in Collins Spanish with Paul Noble and while it has been good using commute time to listen to the CDs, I'm conscious that driving takes top priority and so I don't always hear or understand what is said.

Apparently the Spanish for 'to do' is Hacer, with a silent H. I was asked to use it in a question by removing the r at the end: Hace (pronounced, as far as I can tell, as assay.) So, to ask: 'what do you do?' I now - if I'm remembering it correctly - will say: Kay assay (phonetically - I still don't know how to spell what...;)

Anyway, I played the CD a couple of times and was still not getting it. I'm finding it harder each week to concentrate - NaNoWriMo starting to take its toll even before November... The course does continually repeat words and there is no pressure from Paul Noble to remember. It is quite weird to be told forgetting is a normal part of learning!

Then I heard the word again and realised - I have an Acer! Spelt differently but pronounced the same. I'm using it now to write this blog post :) Hacer means 'to do!' I do a lot with my laptop: I've written stories; blog posts; software applications... Hacer means to do!

Monday, 10 October 2011

NaNoWriMo prep - Plotting

I am serious about being a writer. About writing: going to bed early enough (I managed 9:30 last night) that I can get up at 6am and write, even though my eyes are struggling to stay open and I almost ignored the alarm – switching it off and collapsing back into sleep.

If I do not write, I am not a writer. It is only when I am bashing words out with electronic or real ink that I can legitimately say to the world – I write.

06:15 now – time to start some serious (but also hopefully fun work on plotting my NaNo novel...)

06:30 – There are twenty two week days in November when I am planning to write. It will give me a structure to follow if I can produce a basic plot that allows one chapter for each of those days. I have been noting down ideas since I signed up for NaNoWriMo so this morning have so far gathered these together to see what I have and where the gaps are. (One benefit of getting up earlier is that I don’t have to break off my flow of writing to make breakfast for my youngest child... :)

07:31 – Finally made myself some breakfast! My favourite youngest daughter has also been fed and is now playing with a Daffy Duck and cereal box...

I have 19 potential chapter ideas and...make that 20... which I feel is a good start to the week. I also have gathered a lot of websites that may prove useful in researching the story. I'm thinking I may extract some text from those websites; compile into a research document and upload to my Kindle to read over during the next fortnight.

Do you think you could write a novel? Have you signed up for NaNoWriMo? How do you plot your novel?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

An open letter to the Prime Minister

Goal 89: To change laws for the better

I find the only way I can comprehend Quantitative Easing is to compare it to theft. Theft of the value of the pound in my pocket; in my bank account; in my salary.

The only ones who appear to be benefitting from QE are the banks who are getting free money to invest with.

I decided this evening to contact our Prime Minister to express my views. The letter is repeated in full below. Perhaps if you would also like to share in the supposed benefits of QE you could also contact the Prime Minister. You may find his contact details here: http://www.number10.gov.uk/contact-us/

Dear Mr Cameron,

I understand that your government has this week decided to inject a further £75 billion into the British economy: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/news/2011/092.htm

This concerns me as I still have not received any share of the previous £200 billion injected since 5 March 2009: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/qe/amount.htm

I am married and have three children and, assuming there are 60 million British citizens, calculate now that your government owes me and my family £22,916 ( I have rounded this figure down.)

This will adequately compensate us for the loss of value of our home; our salaries; our savings; and our belongings – all of which have depreciated in value as a direct result of your quantitative easing policy.

It may be that you prefer to pay each of us separately and if so I would be happy to provide names and/or bank accounts details.

Looking forward to helping the country spend and save more money,

Yours sincerely,

Mark Smith

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What NaNoWriMo is doing for me

Back in 2009 when I first started regular writing towards Fallen Warriors I was conscious I had little time. Planning another three years of study and work and family commitments all at the same time: 100 words a day seemed both reasonable and achievable.

But it was slow. Painfully slow. Okay, I wrote more when I could but I also consciously limited myself and forced myself to set writing as a low priority.

When I began struggling with the plot I stopped writing regularly and eventually stopped altogether.

I still plan to complete that novel but right now I'm focused on getting ready for November. NaNoWriMo has inspired me; has revitalised me as a writer. Two months ago I wasn't writing anything and now most days - I had a day off yesterday - I am turning out between 500 and 700 words in under 45 minutes. I have twice written my daily target for November of 2,300 words in two hours.

Orson Scott Card writes that a full time writer can discipline themselves to write 5,000 words a day and I am now starting to believe that is something I can attain to.

I love playing with the figures. If, after NaNo, I can discipline myself to write 1000 words a day - which now seems a highly realistic goal: to write for an hour a day and achieve 1000 words - then I could theoretically complete two 100K novels a year.

Okay I still need to factor in time for editing them so these would only be first drafts but that discipline seems like a worthwhile goal to aim for...

What is NaNoWriMo doing for you?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

NaNoWriMo - a day off

I won't be able to sleep-in during November but I took an extra hour this morning.

I have not been consistent enough or early enough in going to bed yet and I can't afford to become exhausted.

I reckon I'll need to get to bed for 9pm week nights in November and it looks like I might have to start that discipline sooner if I'm to keep getting up early in October. Off to work soon in a howling gale. How did Scotland miss the UK's heatwave last week?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NaNoWriMo - why do I need a floppy to slipstream?

My three mistakes over the weekend:
  1. Choosing not to read the instructions
  2. Trying to improve something while distracted
  3. Trying to improve something while dis... oh. Yeah.
It took me quite a while on Saturday to retrace more or less the same steps I'd taken in 2007:
  1. Try and install new operating system on Laptop
  2. Install failed because Laptop has new SATA drive which old Windows XP doesn't recognise
  3. Find SATA driver on Acer's website
  4. Try installing XP
  5. Install fails because driver not on floppy drive
  6. Stomp around the room in frustration because I don't have a floppy drive
  7. Read the forums
  8. Discover nLite and how to 'slipstream' a driver into an XP installation CD
  9. Create my first cut down version of XP using driver file obtained from Acer
  10. Stomp around the room some more because the install fails - still not finding my Laptop's harddrive
  11. Do some more research - find that I have to run the 'driver' which is actually an executable designed to write files to - and only to - a floppy disk.
  12. Cue more stomping...
Although I understand why Acer provide an executable program which automatically installs driver files to a floppy drive, it irritated me back in 2007 and still does in 2011. Acer knew their laptops didn't come with floppy drives but I guess that five to ten years ago most PCs still had one.

Back in 2007 - the memories come flooding back at this point - I didn't! I had built our PC myself: speccing the parts; ordering them; and putting the whole thing together - from the motherboard up; without a floppy drive! I reasoned we would not need one anymore. DVD's were the new norm and we could save files to both CD and DVD without any issues. Until I tried changing the operating system on my laptop.

In 2007 my only choice was to abandon the upgrade or make a trip to a PC store. I chose the latter and
forked out a tenner for a floppy drive that I only needed once in the next four years. I installed the floppy drive, extracted the actual driver files to a floppy disk and slipstreamed them into an nLite CD.

I'm fairly sure I saved the driver files somewhere... But late on Saturday evening I found myself rooting about in a cupboard for the floppy drive I had removed almost as soon as I'd installed it four years before:


Having all the necessary drivers ready, I re-ran nLite and created a new CD, only to find it was around 50Mb bigger than the last time. This was irritating as a major point of slipstreaming is to reduce the installation size. I decided to start again but of course this entailed setting up the install and I quickly backtracked. After a couple more attempts at reducing the size of the CD, by which time it was past midnight, I gave up. Each time I tried - it added on 50Mb!

I know a definition of madness is retrying something that failed the last time but sometimes I just can't help myself! (Anyone have any suggestions why the installation kept increasing in size?)

In the end I used one of the early attempts and although it wasn't quite as automatic as I'd hoped, it worked pretty well. Half an hour later and I'd got Internet up and running, installed Microsoft Office and checked I could access all my backed up files. I was booting up in under a minute - quite an improvement over the plus five minutes Vista had been taking.

(Why did it all take so long? It was Saturday evening and the TV was on, what can I say! I'd recorded Fringe earlier in the week and between that and my wife's favourite hospital dramas, I struggled to concentrate.)

Once online, I used my blog page to check T'Internet and saw this:
I'm rather fond of my new Amazon carousel. I make a few pence from any sales of books I recommend. But even if no-one buys anything, I love watching those books spin!

New operating system equals no plugins. First up: Adobe Flash Player (Without 'Free! McAfee Security Scan Plus' thank you very much Adobe!)

And so it begins. A gradual progression of installing software that will one day cause my computer to run so slowly I'll want to re-install the operating system. Hopefully next time I'll remember where I saved those driver files...

Monday, 3 October 2011

NaNoWriMo - F6 driver needed!

I installed XP Pro on my laptop in 2007. Four years on and while I knew I had done this and vaguely recalled some issues I had completely forgotten the specifics. It made downgrading from Vista a teensy bit harder.

Turns out I've got a SATA harddrive on my now ancient Acer TravelMate. A few seconds into the XP install a message appears informing you can press F6 to install a driver for the harddrive. Turns out this was the specific I really needed to remember! Without this driver, the install could not even find or recognise the harddrive and failed.

Since the install failed before wiping the drive I was able to reboot and start googling. Installing XP on SATA harddrives is a common problem as it turns out. I quickly located the driver but then did my typical guy thing and failed to fully read the instructions. I had done this before so it couldn't be that hard, could it? That was my first mistake.

I used a nifty application called nlite last time which allows you to customize installing an operating system - slipstreaming. nlite lets you decide which aspects of XP to install and which to leave out. No more solitaire eating up disk space; don't like Internet Explorer - don't install it! It can also automate the install process: set it up with the software key and user names and passwords beforehand and you can create a CD which will install the same custom version of XP on any computer in your organisation. Oh, and it's free.

I wasn't happy with the slipstreamed version in 2007 and wanted to improve it. That was my second mistake.

Backing up everything off the laptop had taken me the whole morning on Saturday and that afternoon got hectic. The need for a weekly food shop and other chores took precedence but I kept working on a new version. Doing several things at the same time was my third mistake.

More about this tomorrow - I need to get ready for work!

760 words this morning. I found it difficult to get going and the pace was quite slow throughout. How is your preparation for NaNoWriMo going?

Saturday, 1 October 2011

NaNoWriMo - Downgrading

If Microsoft made cars it would take progressively longer to turn the engine on until we would have no choice but to replace the car if we wanted to get anywhere... You've probably heard the longer version of that joke many times before. I'm now at the stage where I need a new car, uh, operating system. There's nothing really wrong with the one I've got, except it irritates me having to wait so long from pressing the on switch to being able to do any work.

I've got nothing against Microsoft - without them I would not have been tempted to buy our first computer. Without Microsoft Excel, I doubt I would have found learning to program as easy as I did.

I enjoy the ease of Windows, prefer MS Office to the free alternatives out there and although I've flirted with Linux; occasionally secretly dream of being a hacker - it just isn't high on my list of priorities. There are other goals I would rather pursue - like NaNoWriMo.

I've used Vista Ultimate for the past couple of years. I found it okay though was frustrated at times by not being able to use all my legacy software. I bought the full version for the drive encryption it offered. But, I'm now downgrading back to Windows XP Pro.

I should be able to use all the software I currently use and I'm hoping, if I put off installing most of the junk I'm sure will eventually creep on my hard drive, I might get more writing in each morning.

I've spent the morning backing up and I'm now signing off and formatting my drive... I may be some time!