Monday, January 11, 2016

Dictation Attempt 3: Dragon Dictation

The following is the raw result of trying to use the Dragon Dictation iPhone app to write while taking my son for a walk/nap in his stroller. The only edits made were a couple (not all) of the carriage returns. For a look at my previous attempts at using dictation, go here (voice recording then transcription) and here (Google speech-to-text).

Hello there. I'm outside right now walking my son in the stroller. He needs to go take a nap.

I'm writing this blog post with Dragon dictation. It is recording software for the iPhone.

I'm doing this to see just how accurate the software is. So far it is not been very accurate. But I'm going to try to write something anyway.

If you notice a lack of commas, it's because I keep forgetting to say the word,, and now I probably got double commas in there, well that's a problem,. Oh shoot I screwed that up,. Now I can't stop singing,.

For the record I don't know how to do carriage return. I'm just using the keyboard to type the return. That's all. Everything else is the soothing sound of my voice.

Anyway here we go. Period.

No one knew why the dead begun to walk. Some thought the gods were angry at us. Some thought the dead were angry at us. Mostly though, but that just walk around wandering through the trees and not bothering anybody particularly.

Those were the wild dead. There were others though. The dead who worked for the burning ember. They came with the dead callers, took people from their homes, and drag them away to the mines beneath the white towers. Those were the dead you had to fear.

Why the emperor had any interest in the white tower no one can say. Those who served him said that he wished to challenge the gods on their home turf. Others thought he was simply mad and sought to destroy the world. They were the ones were dragged away the most often.

Hearalde and his family knew very little of this. They lived in a simple fishing village. On the island of Wallstent. In the far north. Very few people ever came there. And very rarely for the dead scene in the village. They were far from the woods Mccoach for the dead did not like to go. One day Hearalde asked his brother Magness quotation mark why are we never allowed to leave the island? Quotation mark

Magnus smiled and said that it was against the Emperor's will for the smile seems fake to Hearalde.

Who are you? Why have you come here? Do you seek death? Knowledge? Both you will find here, perhaps one will find you.

Here's an idea dictation app it already automatically adds a, quotation marks Tenneyson sedans with set. That automatically at the, whenever you pause for more than five seconds. Three seconds. An app that lets you customize your own voice dictionary.

Okay I'm done with this. This is what dictation writing is like pouring. Maybe I'll get better at it. Maybe I won't. But here we are.

And I'm still forgetting the comments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Thousand Voices, A Thousand Faces

I recently reread The Hobbit, because the world is dark and full of terrors and I needed some good escapism. Of course, once you reread The Hobbit you almost have to go right into The Lord of the Rings, and I'm sure I'll be skimming The Silmarillion again before too long.

What was odd was, I noticed that Barliman Butterbur had started sounding like Rubeus Hagrid in my head.

Yeah, that guy.Which was odd because I'm fairly certain, back when I was a kid, that he didn't sound like Hagrid. But I'm also fairly certain he sounded close. And now I'm reading his lines again, and he doesn't sound like Hagrid. He's a bit higher pitched, and definitely a bit sharper when he speaks. And his cadence is faster, which is fitting for a guy who's run off his feet most of the time.

By the way, Butterbur doesn't sound like this guy:

Or look much like him neither, tell the truth. My Butterbur is a bit younger, a bit redder in the face, more lively overall. He doesn't have the muttonchops, but he does have a mustache I think, with less of a droop. And of course he's wearing a white apron.

Then there's Thorin Oakenshield.

Yeah, not him. My Thorin wears the blue cloak and a tasseled hat, with big gloves and bigger boots. Why gloves and boots? I don't know. His beard and hair are black, but his beard comes to a point and his mustache is slicked with a slight upward curve at the tips. He's about as broad as he is tall, like all the Tolkien dwarfs in my head, except Bombur who starts at broad-and-a-half. And he sounds pretty damn pompous when he speaks, and often ill-tempered - closer to Uther Lightbringer than Richard Armitage's leonine growl.

Movie Thorin is pretty great, and Armitage and the costumer deserve a lot of credit for bringing the character to life. But he's not the guy I see when I'm reading. And I don't see Martin Freeman or Elijah Wood or Sean Astin when I read Lord of the Rings.

Viggo Mortensen has crept into my Aragorn, but the one in my head is clean-shaven and looks younger. You can blame the book cover over on the left for that, it's the one that my local library stocked when I was a kid and reading the books for the first time. My Aragorn has longer hair, though, and a leaner face; but he has a deeper voice than Mortensen, too.

The Legolas on The Two Towers cover remains more my Legolas than Orlando Bloom, and he doesn't have a British accent. John Rhys-Davies has almost entirely replaced the vaguely-formed Gimli I kept in my head, though; mine's certainly not the one on that cover. As for Gollum, for years he was that black nightmarish thing on the old cover of The Hobbit. Now he's largely Movie Gollum, but he goes back to the nightmare whenever his eyes start to glow in the text. His voice is irrevocably Andy Serkis's now, though.

Is Ian McKellan Gandalf? He's crept in, to be sure, but my Gandalf wears big boots and a pointy hat at all times, with bushy intimidating eyebrows and a disapproving face that is not to be trifled with. In all honesty he's probably Sir Astral from Shining Force II - except even that's not right, because my Gandalf's eyebrows are black, and so are his eyes.

My Saruman's the big weirdo of the bunch, though, as he looks nothing like the one in the movie or the one described in the book. Mine has long hair, silver-blonde, and no beard. He's younger where Gandalf is older, smiling where Gandalf is frowning, and the robe of many colors works for him. His voice is soft, melodious, but ugly and hissing when he's unmasked. (My Google-fu is failing me here, but I suppose he's close to Primarch Fulgrim in the face and hair.)

Image via Noldofinve on DeviantArt
All of which is a really roundabout way of pointing out that when you're a writer, everyone is going to view your characters through a lens built out of their own experiences and predispositions. Sometimes that's going to be out of your control: the cover artist might spin a character a certain way, or the reader might skim a descriptive passage too fast and fill in something you didn't intend.

But! If you're consistent with your character's voice and her mannerisms, you can bring the reader closer to your intention. My Butterbur doesn't sound like anyone else's Butterbur, but he's closer than a stranger to the one in the movie. And I suspect everyone's Gandalf sounds at least a bit like Ian McKellan these days.

Are they any characters you hear or see in a non-traditional way?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fallout 4 Just Won My Heart

I've been playing Fallout 4 intermittently (read: at night, after bedtime, if the house is clean) since it came out. Up until tonight my verdict was "not bad, better than Fallout 3", which I never really got into. V.A.T.S. combat is fun until it goes on too long, the world is a hoot, Dogmeat sank into the ground like fucking Artax a few times but I'm sure there's a patch coming.

But then tonight happened.

I'm looking for a detective. I find the building he's been stashed in, and I go through killing miscellaneous assholes. And I keep going. And keep going. A bit too long, honestly, but point is I find the guy and I get back out. I manage to talk down the kidnappers (after failing the first Charisma check - thanks quicksave), and we get out, away, Scott free into the night...

except Swan spawns.

This is Swan.

What the hell is Swan? I have no idea. It had nothing to do with the mission or anything else that was happening. I just know it came out of nowhere in the dead of night and started clubbing me to death.

Was I prepared for that? Hell no. I'd just been through an entire dungeon! No Stimpaks for me! No power armor! And I'm still early in the game without much to my name except a Cryolator my pal Dogmeat busted out of a safe for me. Good dog!

So I throw the Cryolator on, start running, and fire. First time I've used the gun. It lets out a puff of what I assume is cold air and causes... let's say 2% damage to the Swan. Laughable damage, I've given him an ice cream headache. Damn it Dogmeat!

Whatever, I don't have better guns. I just run around and keep firing and try to dodge the Swan's hits, which I fail at.

Screenshots stolen from Google results for "Fallout 4 Swan".
I don't have health items so I just scarf radioactive meat as fast as I can. Fuck the rads. I try V.A.T.S. but there's hardly any point, it doesn't make a difference to the damage I'm causing. I'm near death but, somehow, he is too. At least he's around 30% health. I jump into my menu for more instafood and see I've got a drug called Jet. Slows time down for 10 seconds. I jack myself up, unpause, and start firing the Cryolator as fast as I can as the bludgeon comes for my head in super slow motion...

And the Swan dies. At the literal last second the Swan keels over. I get a fancy gun and some other gear I can't even process, I'm so high on adrenaline.

I find the detective smoking in an alley, somehow restrain myself from grabbing him and shaking him screaming "Where were you?!", finish the rescue mission, and call it a night. No way I'm topping that.

Bloodborne was the last game that gave me a rush like this fight. It was totally unexpected, brutal, but it was fair and it was winnable and I won, damn it. If Fallout 4 keeps delivering moments like this I'm in 'til the end.

Roll on into the wasteland! Bring on the next super mutant! Oh God it's got a nuke wait

Friday, November 13, 2015

Let's Talk About Failure

failure, n.
1. lack of success.
2. the omission of expected or required action.

I am told that writing is hard. I read, often, that a lot of writers can't make a living wage, that they never get their work published, that they give up on their writing aspirations. That they fail.

Let's unpack that.

The first definition of failure is lack of success. If you define "success" as "making enough money to rival Stephen King", then yes, a lot of writers fail. Almost all of them, in fact.

If you define it as "making enough money to live on", then again, a lot of writers fail. But a lot of writers have second jobs, too.

If you define success as "getting published regularly", once more, a lot of writers fail. We live in a world of limited markets. We also live in a world of unprecedented self-publishing opportunities.

If you define success as "getting published once", or "making a bit of money"... a lot of writers will fail here too. But it's a lot less than the ones who failed to be Stephen King.

If you define success as "I wrote something someone else enjoyed reading", then you're looking at less failures still. Parents count here, by the way.

And if you define success as "I wrote something and enjoyed it", well, I'm sure some people manage to fail here. And at this level there's absolutely no shame in that. Go do something that does make you happy, friend.

Then there's definition two, lack of action. For writers that means missing the deadline. Not finishing the story. Giving up entirely.

Those are the dangerous fail states. They are also all curable. You can ask for an extension on the deadline, you can finish the story (or start one you like better - I know, but sometimes it is necessary), you can put the pen down for a few years and then pick it back up.

About the only way I can think of to permanently, irrevocably fail as a writer is to die before your ambitions, whatever they are, are fulfilled. And sometimes even that isn't enough. From The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, published posthumously:

"I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me!

When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?"

Anne Frank was definitely a writer, and she wrote something great, even if she didn't live to see the achievement.

So writers, don't worry about failure. It's not as common as you think, and it's probably not happening to you.

All your other worries are fair game, though. Like your word count. Hi NaNoWriMo, I hate you so much this year!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tales of Vault 867 - Part Twelve

Well well well! It looks like the Raiders are finally coming up with some new strategies. Perhaps they'll finally become the legitimate threat they've always meant to be.

Or not.

Apparently they thought sending a stand-up comedian to the door to beg for his life would get us to open ourselves up for another raid. Which, unfortunately, it did, because my Dwellers are idiots. Fortunately so are the Raiders, and we were able to get the doors sealed again in time.

Fortunately the "comedian" turned out to be just another Wasteland lunatic, but one with an advanced understanding of water purification and our processing equipment. Ever since he got here we've had much fewer incidents with flammable molerats in the drinking water.

Unfortunately he couldn't do anything about the highly-flammable intoxicants Scumbag Owens has been storing in his hab block. It's amazing how fast full-term pregnant women can run when properly motivated.

I set up an education block in the lower levels in an attempt to raise the average I.Q. in the Vault. Our teaching staff... leaves something to be desired.

In spite of these setbacks, we've actually seen a pretty large uptick in Dwellers coming in from the Wasteland. I assume Terry's attempts to recruit for his traitor armies have just spread the word about what a well-run organization we are.

Naturally I've had them all quarantined and subjected to interrogation. The Traitor hasn't put in an appearance in months, and I'm confident his evil has finally been put to rest.