Category Archives: Books

Harry Potter book 4

So I finished rereading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire in anticipation of the 4th film, which we just saw last night. (Thanks Damon for remembering to buy tickets a month early.) The film did a great job of capturing the important points of the book, while pushing the plot along at a very quick pace. The first half dozen chapters seemed to slip by in only five minutes of screen time. I was wondering how they were going to squeeze 800 pages into two and a half hours, but they did it.

Overhead while Traci was reading the book: “It’s weird… Hermione seems so much more like a Hufflepuff.”

10,302 words

A few weeks ago I heard about NaNoWriMo, a month-long “contest” to write a novel. You start November 1st, end at midnight November 30th, and if you’ve amassed 50,000 words, you win. Of course there are a lot of winners, and no prizes, but it’s a great idea and I think really helps push people in ways they didn’t think possible.

I wasn’t planning on entering, even though I’ve tinkered with trying to write a novel before now. It’s hard work, and it’s easy to get stuck up on plot problems or run out of ideas and abandon the whole thing. That’s the last thing I have time for. I brought up NaNoWriMo in discussion a few days ago and I talked about it as something that other people were doing, not something I was crazy enough to try.

But three days into the month, I added it to my 43things and started writing. I’m way behind the recommended quota already, but I’ve just crossed the 10,000 word mark so I wanted to mark the milestone.

Most of the novels, especially mine, won’t be very good. They have plot problems, weak characters, and half of them are made up as they go along. I’m 8 chapters into it and only have a vague idea of what will happen from one chapter to the next. I did absolutely no planning upfront.

But that’s fine. It’s like a marathon. It doesn’t matter if you look good when you cross the finish line.

It’s about setting unreasonable deadlines. They force you to stop procrastinating and work your heart out to finish something.

Running Mac OS X

Congratulations to James Duncan Davidson, whose Running Mac OS X Panther has gone to press just in time for him to enjoy the holidays. I had the opportunity to review the book, and it’s a solid achievement. He covers many topics that will be useful to new and long-time Mac OS X users alike. Even in the most basic chapters there was nuggets of goodness, little tricks that will make working with your system easier. I particularly like how he covers the command-line tool equivalents for many features, which makes the book a good resource to turn to later.

Mike Clark has a fun review which will surely make the back cover. The official web site is also now up.

Rustboy book

My copy of the Rustboy book arrived the other day. It is an incredible achievement, one of the best “making of” books I’ve seen. Like the upcoming film, it was put together by one guy, a Mac with off-the-shelf software, and some good design sense.

Much of the book contents can also be found on the main Rustboy web site, but there is new stuff in the book too, plus some great insight. And hey, it even comes with 3d glasses.

I only hope that he can finish the film itself relatively soon. Yesterday I caught myself saying that he would never finish it at this rate, or that it would take 5 years, but the truth is that I can see it being completed in another year or two. My only concern is that the story might not be strong enough to engage an audience for 25 minutes, but his work is beautiful so it hardly matters. And he has been such a perfectionist up to this point, it’s better to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Fragments

Enrico's cat

I just received my copy of Fragments in the mail. It’s a great collection of sketches and paintings by Pixar story artists Ronnie Del Carmen and Enrico Casarosa. (Pixar, for those not paying attention, is the new Disney — where artists control the process, and good storytelling still means something.)

There’s a shift occurring in the animation and comic world, a change that favors independent artists. Fragments is self-published. So are Michel Gagne’s popular books. The RustBoy book should be out by the end of the month, and all indications point to great sales that will help fund the film. Countless comic artists are publishing sketchbooks, or moving their comics online. The other piece of the puzzle is the technology: producing an independent short film at home has never been more possible, if you’re willing to put in the work to see it through to completion.

Why does this matter? It enables artists to create what they want, if the audience is there. And it provides a personal touch that big companies can’t match, such as this little cat sketch from the Fragments mailing package.

What would Dumbledore do?

I finished the fifth Harry Potter book last weekend. It was easily the best so far, and as usual a lot of fun to read.

Snitch tattoo Here are two pictures from the bookstore party last month. I picked up my copy at midnight with hundreds of other fans. I half expected a lot of crazies to show up, but it was all normal folks. Just people of all ages exciting about reading. A few dressed up. One woman let me take a picture of her Golden Snitch tattoo.

I guess I should go back to reading adult books now. Yawn.

Bookstore party

Reading list

I’ve added a list of books I am reading or have recently read to the right column of this web site. Just a friendly reminder to stick your head over the walls of RSS-land every once in a while.

I love Amazon Light already.

I love Amazon Light already. Great for when you want to lookup something quickly. I wonder how long it will be before native apps start providing features that use Amazon’s API (or Google’s, for that matter). I’d love a simple OS X app to catalog all my books, for starters. Leveraging the Amazon database would provide instant categorization, etc.

Yesterday I finished reading Steven

Yesterday I finished reading Steven Johnson’s Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. It was one of those rare books that leaves you with a dozen different things to think about.

It’s a fascinating book, and the topics are woven together beautifully. I get the feeling that Johnson did thorough research, planned out the entire structure of the book, but then wrote many sections straight through without stopping to edit — it flows with a rhythm and pace that makes for an easy read.

A related ant story in the news two weeks ago: “A supercolony of ants has been discovered stretching thousands of miles from the Italian Riviera along the coastline to northwest Spain.”