Link Blog, October 2020

Logbook links

Good Movies, October 2020

Holy crap did I watch a lot of movies this month. This was mostly brought on by Criterion’s horror lineup, but, still. Wow.

Logbook movies

Fran’s Not Here S02E05 - Spadina Blend

Show Notes:

Wait. Stop. Please. Don’t Go. or whatever.

Fran’s Not Here is a show about Toronto, co-hosted by Sawyer Paul and Robert Pilgrim. Read blog posts about each episode. The show is hosted at Anchor, where you can subscribe however you want.

podcasts fransnothere

Today is Today, October 26, 2020

I opened my Notion website thing and a bunch of good links came out of the sites today.

today is today links

Microblog Thoughts, September 25-October 25 2020

  • Just typing /feed after a newsletter url and subscribing via rss feels like the laziest possible form of dorkery but I do it…all the time?
  • Why is there no Boom Blox 3 for the Switch?
  • Especially if you use Pocket and or the public library, Kobo’s rule.
  • Can we keep this G1 production style where it’s 5 singles matches then everybody gets to go home and sleep that’d be swell actually. #njpw
  • is it just me or did @criterionchannl drop more movies this month than all summer? It’s just a bevy, Jerry. a bevy!
  • Are there podcasts about people just spending time watching old movies? That would be nice.
  • Well, works over. Time to watch some Neanderthal gymnastics.
  • Notion does this one really cool thing I wished OneNote would do. Tries to do it in OneNote, and it works just like in Notion, probably has forever, even though I’ve used this app for ten years.
  • I am at please don’t delete my data, please don’t delete my data, oh my God please don’t delete my data“ stave off being in love with @NotionHQ
  • Maybe the new iPhone will fix everything
  • She Plays Bass is on every single Spotify playlist
  • About three years to the day, my Kobo Aura HD kicked the bucket last night. I loved that thing. What’s the ebook reader market look like now?
  • I’ve been killing ebook readers since before it was cool. The first one that died was a Sony from 2008. Sony’s early ereaders were rad: made with aluminum and lots of buttons and features. Who knows how people would use this thing, they thought.
  • My favourite ereader design wasn’t the original (pictured) but look at this thing. See those two page flip buttons on the side? That’s the innovation” of the newest kobos and kindles. https://t.co/b4labX9TV9
  • This one was my favourite. The Sony Reader 300 was small and extremely comfortable. No reader has felt as premium or friendly since, actually. https://t.co/qggYzlXf35
  • I’ve been a Kobo user since Sony exited the market. They’ve really come into their own the last few years, and the Aura HD really fought for attention. Pocket and Overdrive support is 🤗
  • I’ll miss the little guy. My first thought was, I need to replace it. It wasn’t I wonder if I can get by with just my phone”. Anyone who’s had a decent reader already knows the answer to that.
  • It died while reading the new Nick Hornby. I had five hours to go. https://t.co/Ub3qj1xsu5
  • Do you like Ted Lasso or are you just a white guy in your 40s
  • I can’t help but notice the disparity in skin colour between the models and the senior leadership at Apple. #AppleEvent
  • I’m at the stage of the #G1CILMAX30 where I’m three days behind so I might as well just wait until the Colosseum Home Video 60 minute highlight reel.
  • I wonder how many tech bros are performing the act of buying the new iPhone so they can keep that sweet tech bro cred –evergreen tweet from 2007
  • Widgets have me rethinking how I use my phone, and how I can use it to make my life and time online a little easier. I’m sort of cooking up an organization system based on pages that would indicate health. Like, device health, my health, friends health, world health.
  • Maybe I don’t like wrestling, maybe I just like vaudeville https://t.co/zIBeBJJ3PY
Logbook my stuff tweets

How’s that first sentence going?

This isn’t a pandemic story. I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about people who are stuck communicating online-only. But I do want to begin this story with my narrator online. And the reason I want to do that is to contrast their life how it is to what it will become when they crash into the couple. Their current life is mostly online. Their new life, or at least what happens in this story, will be an analogue experience.

So let’s start with some video calls. What’s my narrator doing online?

I was standing in my room looking at live videos of other people standing in their rooms.

Okay, that’s not bad. It’s a little long.

I was standing in my room, on zoom, drinking wine.

Shorter, more obvious to the current reader. But, two things. FIrst, I wrote the word zoom,” which makes tons of sense on 2020 but might not make sense in 2021, let alone 2120. So many writing advice books caution using brand names like this for posterity. I don’t really believe this. If I’m writing a story about the 60s and say, like, I was typing on my portable Smith Corona,” I’m fairly confident readers today could put together that it’s a typewriter. We’re all actually pretty good at this. Second, drinking wine. That’s sort of boring. I want to punch that up.

I was on zoom in my room, drinking more wine than my mother.

That’s better. I think that’s pretty relatable, pithy.

I was standing in my room on a zoom, and I had been drinking since noon.

Okay now I’m just rhyming for fun.

I was drinking on zoom with my mother.

Who says mother? Psychopaths.

I was drinking on zoom with my parents. These little video chats had replaced our phone calls. They liked seeing me, and I liked justifying purchases of computer hardware.

There we go. Lots of telling fragments. But is it boring? Is it boring enough?

I was once again finishing a bottle of cab merlot blend while my parents seemed concerned about my mental health.

Now I’m getting somewhere.

story planning

How Long is this story going to be?

I’m feeling especially distracted and unfocused this morning. This little blog post took an hour to write.

I usually write books. Okay, that’s not true. I usually try to write books.

I’ve been trying to write books my whole life. I haven’t been trying to write stories. Maybe that’s my problem. I’m always picturing this end product, a 70,000 word thing with margins and backmatter. I’m a layout guy in my work. I think about the bleed. I typeset my first set of short stories before they were even done. That was definitely the wrong order to do things.

I’ve tried several approaches. I’ve written with no plan. I’ve written with too much plan. I’m not sure either is better by themselves. Maybe it’s a personality thing? A loose idea of where to go seems to suit me best. So that’s what I’m going to do here. I have a faint trail of where to go with this story, but I’m not going to set it in stone. I want this story to be a creative outlet.

I remember this Radiohead interview from the mid-2000s, where they insisted they hated making albums and would probably just do singles from then on. That was three albums ago. It’s tough to break out of your model. It’s tough to not think of stories as filling a certain container, especially if that’s how your business works. But even for someone like me who’s sold only hundreds of books, it’s tough to not realize things can be different.

This story I’m writing probably won’t be a novel, is what I’m trying to say. I’d like to write it until it’s done, but I don’t want that done” tag to mean long. I’d like to see done” in a month or two. I’d like a V1 before the end of this bent year. I’d like that for myself. That would feel like a win.

story planning

Video Calling is Terrible

I had an awful day with video calls yesterday. Two work calls and a social podcast, right? Microsoft Teams, and Instagram Live. I’ve been doing this for months. But the audio is jittery on Teams, and it’s throwing up a weak connection” alert even though I’m getting 50mbps. So, I try switching bands, from 5gz to 2.4. It helps, like, a little, but it’s still crappy enough I’m relegated to typing in the chat box instead of talking, like an animal. During the second meeting, I do the one hack I think most people know by this point: you can be in the same Teams meeting on your computer and your phone. Why can you do this? I don’t know, but I’m glad I can, because my phone’s audio latency is perfect (on the exact same wi-fi).

Later on in the day, I notice that my wi-fi is down to 20mbps. It’s 5:30pm, and the internet always dips a little at this hour. I live in a large condo. I’m guessing it’s just the most popular time for families to be online. So, I ask my podcast partner to use Skype instead of Instragram Live to record. Skype works even when there’s no internet, I don’t know, it’s magic from the old days. But when I initiate the call, I have no audio. The webcam and my trusted Blu microphone aren’t showing up as options, for the first time in like, ten years. Frustration emoji.

So I move out to the balcony, the one place where my wi-fi never fails, and call my bud on Instagram Live. We have a pretty good chat. What a day.

I’m guessing this kind of thing isn’t all that crazy for people working and hanging out at home, but I don’t hear too many stories like it. Maybe we’re all just keeping it to ourselves. Luckily, this post appeared in my RSS feed last night and it gave me comfort. It’s not that there’s a solution, but at least you’re not alone.

Matt Webb writes:

Here’s an example of the problem: I was on Google Meet with Ben Redford (of Mayku) this morning, and he wanted to show me something but the software was being wonky. So he started a Zoom call, and sent me a link in Google Meet chat. I tapped the link and jumped to Zoom to join him… but the sound didn’t work. The Meet app was hogging the sound, so I closed that, then switched back to Zoom and we continued.

Webb suggests several solutions that are great ideas. I have no idea if any of them will ever happen, but it certainly would be nice.

I’ve talked before (on not one but two podcast episodes) about the sorry state of messaging apps, and it’s all the same shit all over again with video. We’re all stuck using seven different silo’d apps (and we are all on all of them), and none of them seem to have any interest in working together.

We’re all separated by this virus. These apps are supposed to tether us together. Why do they suck so bad at it?

messaging technology video calling links

Fran’s Not Here S02E04 - Early Uggos

Show Notes:

I can’t find Caroline in the City easily enough.

Fran’s Not Here is a show about Toronto, co-hosted by Sawyer Paul and Robert Pilgrim. Read blog posts about each episode. The show is hosted at Anchor, where you can subscribe however you want.

podcasts fransnothere

Who is my narrator?

So I’ve got some mysterious smoking guy outside my narrator’s building. Something about him interests my narrator. What is it? But perhaps before I figure that out, why would anything interest my narrator? What makes something interesting or curious for them? My narrator can’t just be nobody. They can’t just actually be a camera. They have to have some perspective.

What do you look like, narrator? I think you’re probably smaller than both the smoking guy and his girlfriend. You can be invisible in a room. You wear unassuming stuff, and your disappear a bit behind your crossbody bag. You’re a viewer, and you feel a little guilty about it. You could be a voyeur if you put your back into it, but you know that’s probably not the most virtuous way to spend your time.

I think the narrator is non-binary. The reader will hear I” more often than not in referring to the narrator. Most characters won’t really be talking about them, but when they do, it’ll be with him, her, and them. I hope that isn’t concerning, but I don’t think it will be. I try to pick my character genders carefully. I’ve been allergic to thinking that the default” should be male, and that the default” love interest should be female. I’ve explored gay characters, but I haven’t had a non-binary character in my work yet.

And, sure, this is partly because I’m seeing myself as more non-binary lately. I see the option as more viable to write about. But I also find being non-binary not terribly interesting in and of itself. It answered a question for me about categorization, but that’s about it. And because I want my narrator to be the least interesting character, lets give them some less interesting traits.

I also have a theory that a nonbinary narrator might be helpful for anyone reading to feel attached to that perspective. A strictly male or female perspective may temper things differently for different readers. But that’s not one I’ve explored too much, and I might be wrong.

Their hair is shaved. They wear loose clothes for their frame, usually in an earthy colour scheme. They wear boots with a small heel. They usually wear long skirts and tshirts one size too big. They wear a Fitbit. Fitbits are the boring choice, right? Everyone has one.

If they’re to be a window into this story, I want them mostly harmless. Perhaps curiosity is their vice. Maybe they’re a researcher. Maybe that’s their job. Maybe this isn’t the first time they’ve stuck their nose where it doesn’t belong. Let’s say they work for some politically-neutral think tank and spend most days paraphrasing and citing arguments. It’s maybe a bit colourless as a gig but there’s something to why the narrator would have curiosity” as a primary character trait.

Let’s say they’ve moved away from home recently. Maybe a year. They haven’t met too many real friends in the new city. They’ve got friends online but their meatspace is mostly travelling to work and back, and sometimes attending the odd meetup. They have free time. I think that’s probably important for someone who’s about to get swept up in something. You can’t be too busy and still get distracted by strangers. They’re about to go on an adventure. Maybe they just got dumped and they’re open to something fresh?

writing story planning