Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thinking about nanowrimo 2008

Like many people all over the place, I am starting to consider my run at NaNoWriMo 2008.
This site has documented my abject failure at this project during 2006 and 2007. This year may very well be different (he tells himself anyway).
And this is why I think so:
  1. Planning is starting in July. Not November.
  2. Have purchased Jer's Novel Writer. Last year I was using it, but perhaps the guilt of all the nag warnings got to me. Or not. Either way, it's a nice piece of software. Fun to use.
  3. Found a nice (if old and pre-NaNo) article that is going to help me do the brainstorm.
  4. Third time lucky.
Here's my plan:
  • Do a rough outline (using above article) straight away. Perhaps this weekend, and with the boys if they are going to have another go this year.
  • Fill in details. Do character profiles. Articles on worldview, history, politics, whatever I can think of to get the creative juices going.
  • Do a complete chapter-by-chapter outline and match it to a day-by-day writing schedule.
  • Fit in room for error in above.
  • Repeat the above until 1 November 2008.
Can he do it?

Fixed my "useful" feed

Thanks to del.icio.us, Yahoo Pipes and Firefox's Live Bookmarks I have a handy toolbar folder containing a nice long list of "Useful" links. These links are usually complicated and not regularly used, but nice to have handy (eg the admin page for this site). Recently, I noticed that my list had shrunk. It turns out del.icio.us put the default length of RSS feeds to 15. Fortunately, norio.be had the solution. Thanks.

Neverwinter Nights 2 error!

I have had my copy of NWN2 pretty much since it was released.

After a couple of false starts over the last two years, I have finally managed to play more than once or twice with a character and really get moving. I am almost at the end of Act I, and at 10th level.

This is not a review (it is a bit late for that), but I just wanted to share a mistake I found in the text.

At the Neverwinter Archive you find a series of books that you need to answer questions on. One of these books is "To Counter the Assumption of a Flat Faerûn", with ideas much like the old belief in a Flat Earth.

Now this is all well and good, but the name of the planet is not Faerûn, it is Abeir-Toril. This is like saying Flat Europe instead of Flat Earth.

Yes, I'm pathetic. No need to tell me.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Sometimes it IS that simple

Just recently, I have been having trouble getting my VMware machines to accept keyboard input.
The patterns:
  1. Not a problem in unity mode. Which doesn't help when you are trying to log in to the machine.
  2. Happens to both my Boot Camp image and to true virtual machines. Also happens on XP images and my Ubuntu image.
Of course, google was my first port of call. Plenty of options, but none really matched my exact situation. The VMware forums had a few solutions, but again the problems described were not the same as mine. Windows seemed to be the only culprit and normally just the Boot Camp partition.

One thread almost hit the nail on the head though. They talk there about some programs like SecureInput taking control of keyboard input and to not run them at the same time as Fusion. Didn't seem to exactly match, so I gave up there and went looking further.

Unfortunately, I didn't find anything useful. Some of the threads suggested rebooting and doing all sorts of basic stuff like that. Lacking any specific solutions, I tried that... Rebooted both the VMs and the host machine.

When I first came back in to my account, I ran Fusion and only Fusion. VM booted nicely and allowed keyboard input. Nice. Opened iTunes (as I am wont to do) and things were fine to start. Then I had an interesting thought...

I run the last.fm client and it is set to open after iTunes does. Unfortunately (and I'm not certain why) it doesn't play nicely on the ISA-controlled network out at Wongutha. When it opens, it doesn't log into my account automatically, but sits there with a login screen waiting for me to hit enter. So my brainwave suggested that I hit enter. I did, last.fm logs in and I get keyboard input back.

Nice.

I will be very surprised if anyone out there has the exact same circumstances I have, but if the big G sends you here, just try logging into your last.fm client. Or just turning it off. Worked for me!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Launch Vmware fusion apps from Quicksilver

I switched to a Mac late last year (traded a Powerbook for a Compaq Presario) and immediately started being jealous of all the owners of newer Macs with their intel chips. Specifially, I wanted VMware fusion so that I could run those select few windows apps I have yet to find reasonable mac substitutes for.

So when I bought a new MacBook Pro recently, I made sure I got a copy of Fusion at the same time. It works as advertised and has been very useful.

Unfortunately, I decided to use my Boot Camp partition as my Windows VM, which was a bad choice as far as convenience is concerned. It is not possible to "suspend" the VM, so starting up Fusion to quickly run Solitaire is not all that simple... It has to wait for Windows to boot.

Today I decided to start a new virtual machine, and it has made a great difference. After suspending the machine before closing Fusion, starting Solitaire from its dock icon takes less than 10 seconds. That's not much more than a native app.

OK, here's to the point of this post... I don't use the dock much. According to all the help docs I could find, when a windows app is running in Unity mode, its icon shows up on the dock. Ctrl-click and then choose "keep in dock" and you have your shortcut. That's great if you use the dock. I don't as a rule. I use Quicksilver normally and sometimes just Finder.

So here is my solution:

  1. Have a look in the Finder for your VM. Normally it will be in ~/Documents/Virtual Machines. Ctrl-Click and "show package contents".
  2. See there... a folder called Applications! As far as I can see, that contains links for all the programs you have previously run in Unity mode.
  3. Go to Quicksilver preferences. Under catalogue, add your VM directory. In my case it was "~/Documents/Virtual Machines.localized/Windows XP Professional.vmwarevm".
  4. Wait for a rescan and away you go. (If an app isn't in the catalogue, run it at least once manually: either from the VMware dock icon or menu bar).
  5. Alternatively, you could just find the shortcut in the directory above and create an alias somewhere useful (eg Desktop).


I am looking forward to having much more convenient access to all my (fortunately few) indispensible Windows apps. (there's a topic for another post)