2020 – Week 16

Installed a new external Bluetooth antenna into my old Mac Pro, which seems to be alleviating the problem of my keyboard & trackpad losing connection through my desk.

Spent a bunch of time learning how to install a commandline image processor, after discovering the Apple built-in one doesn’t actually get the math correct on image scaling.

It’s a terrible dilemma – the Apple one can process all 236 pages of my book from PDF to PNG in about 3-5 minutes. Photoshop requires 35 minutes to do it – 10 times as much.

I’d hoped this commandline option might be faster, but alas, it requires a LOT more time – almost 2 hours for the full run.

So, back to relying on an ancient copy of Photoshop.

Other interesting issues, while going through Surfing The Deathline, I discovered a whole bunch of errors that have been in the published work for, up to 15 years. It’s baffling how blind you can be to your own work.

2020 – Week 15

Was supposed to receive a Covid vaccine this week, but got bumped by a month. Given the concerns over the Astra-Zenica vaccine, a month’s wait was not necessarily a bad thing.

Then we found out the AZ vaccine is being cancelled for under 50s, so now I’m waiting to hear if I’m going to get Pfizer.

Rest of the week was spent trying to figure out my image processing workflow. It turns out I thought I did something smart, only to be let down by the secondrate tools built in to macOS.

2020 – Week 14

Lockdown again for Brisbane, and once more, we cower, waiting to see if the holiday-refugees and second-housers will try to escape the dome and bring their plague to us. Thankfully the state government & police seem to be pretty upfront in saying people aren’t allowed to escape, and the local mayor & accomodation providers are cancelling bookings, in an effort to save Easter.

But this is Noosa, so none pays attention to mask rules, etc.

My dental and optical sagas continue, it’s a never ending fight to get some pretty simple healthcare here. Sometimes I think the local providers are just set up to coast old people to the end, rather than provide significant care.

The end of the week saw me solve a longstanding problem with my EPUB publishing workflow, which will be a blogpost in of itself.

2020 – Week 13

Making progress on the cover art. As usual, I’m finding bugs in my tools – this seems to be a never ending thing, noone seems to make software that is well engineered enough to work properly when faced with an unusual system configuration.

This time, it’s ArtRage, my digital natural media painting software, that has decided all menus need to be offset, or rather need to be spawned a specific, set, physical distance from the UI element that is clicked upon to spawn them. Thus:

2020 – Week 12

Spent a bunch of time working on the cover for Surfing The Deathline: Full Course. It’s been a long road trying to get to where it is, most of which was spent on an abandoned concept, of redoing Hokusai’s Great Wave in pill logos. But, it required extending the original image, and guess what?

Extending the masterwork, of a master of a artform is REALLY difficult. Whoda thunk it?

So eventually, I gave up, and, looking around in my folder of supporting art made for other things Surfing The Deathline-related, came upon an image I’d created aaaages ago, but kept on using as the background for the SDL website. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how I achieved it, so most of the week was spent trying to get the right combination of filters on the original set of photos.

Once the background was done, there was the problem of what the “feature” artwork was going to be. It’s difficult, because every individual cover had already featured a main character (or group), and I didn’t want to overly emphasise or double-feature any of the major characters, given the focus shifts throughout the book – the ostensible “main” character at the beginning only speaks in the first two books, thinks only three words in the third book, and is silent for the rest of the series.

As is often the case, thinking the problem out with a pencil was the solution. I started doodling, and the answer built itself – the four main speaking characters, arranged as a lineup, with poses that speak to their personalities. The front cover featuring Eddie & Jan, the back, Blank and The Dealer.

2020 – Week 11

Air-conditioning installer returned on Monday, to install a bunch of extra equipment in the roof, which has fixed all the problems we were having with the aircon system.

We can now set one room to be cold, while the rest of the house stays warm, and the inverter is only running occasionally, instead of 24/7.

Further, I’m still waiting to hear more about how the coolsuit suppliers are going to sort a solution to the failure of the backpack’s bladder. I suspect by the time it’s sorted out, it’ll be cold enough not to matter.

I also had yet another experience of being quoted on twitter again, by one of my favourite cyberpunk authors – Bruce Sterling.

2020 – Week 10

Some reorganisation of all my sculpture gear, while I wait for the temperatures to drop, in order get back into production of the Studio-In-A-Box.

Roll-in & roll out for Welder and compressor, should see setup & packdown time reduced.

Had another dental cast made – that’s three now.

2021 – Week 9

Lots of digital stuff – some major breakthroughs made on converting pdf files to png for publication in EPUB format. The huge show-stopper problem that previously prevented me using the built-in macOS tools to do the job, has seemingly been fixed, unbeknownst to me, so I was able to get a whole bunch of stuff automated.

I managed to update all five parts of Surfing The Deathline, and get them live on the Apple Books store, but not without them screwing a part of it up, and applying some weird colour tint to the cover art.

What seems to be happening, is that for some reason, Apple has decided two of my books should have a black base colour for their cover art, as presented on the Apple Books Preview site. It seems the website works by having a basic tone texture for the book cover, and then applying the cover art to it in multiply mode, so the tone texture produces a subtle gradient on the image.

I can inspect the page source, and if I switch off the background colour attribute in this class:

.we-artwork::after {
height: 100%;
top: 0;
background-color: var(--background-color);
left: 0;
}

I can return the artwork to its correct appearance.

This might all be part of that most pathetic of user-interface trends “dark mode”.

2021 – Week 8

Most of this week has been spent on digital processes – clearing up Surfing The Deathline for eBook publication. Primarily, to get one final update done for the versions on the Apple Books store, before creating the collected version for direct sales.

Highs and lows all round as options presented themselves then failed, but finally I’ve succeeded, and managed to get a workflow happening.

Had a moment of reflected glory – Bruce Sterling, one of the two founding authors of the whole Cyberpunk genre, Quote-tweeted me:

2021 – Week 7

Quiet start to the week, aside from having to rush my mother to the hospital, which kindof dominated the week’s events.

Picked up my remade glasses, and they’re unusable in a different fashion. The edge highlight is now converging lines, and they’re “blue blocking” which means they completely wreck the colour calibration of my displays.

Received an email from a Kickstarter project I backed in early 2019, for a product that was supposed to ship in September 2019, which I’m still waiting for, and for which part has been cancelled – the company was offering store credit for the part they weren’t making.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t interested in anything else they made, so sent off a stern email. They’ve agreed to refund at least part of my order. I’m hoping they’ll just do the whole thing.