Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ingress: Tips for the Sojourner

This is the sojourners medal.

It’s probably the easiest and hardest medal to achieve in Ingress. Easy, because all you have to do is to go out there, find a portal, and hack it. Hard, because there are days when the last thing you want to do is go anywhere, whether you are sick, busy, behind schedule, or the weather is more than unpleasant. Those days, where you just ‘don’ wanna’.

The sojourner’s medal is earned by hacking an Ingress portal once a day, on consecutive days, or, as the medal says: “hack a portal within consecutive 24-hour periods”. Here are a few tips on how not to miss a day.

Hack Every Day

Sounds obvious, right? And easy. Just remind yourself of that, the next time you’re making excuses not to go out, whether they’re valid or not. While it only takes 15 days to earn the lowest tier of this medal, it’s going to take almost a year to achieve the highest tier, and that counter resets if you miss a day.

Hack Twice a Day

So, if hacking once a day is going to be so hard, why should you bother trying for twice a day? Because twice a day means you are hacking every 12 hours. It means you can miss the 12-hour period by a few hours and it doesn’t matter. If you miss the 24-hour hack by a few hours, you’ll lose your streak. Hacking twice a day removes that risk, and any stress you might feel about getting out there to hack. Hacking twice a day lets you sleep in, or stay out late and party.

Three Times a Day—or More— is Better

Before work, after work, and lunch, if you’re in an area that allows it. Hacking more is better.

Work it Into a Routine

Go for a walk, hack a portal. Go for a half-hour walk in the morning, and another in the evening. Make it part of your fitness routine. Remember that continuous walking is better for you than stop-start walking, so you can either hack as you go past a portal, and not stop, or you can hack one portal and then put your phone away and focus on your fitness for the next thirty minutes, or keep your phone away until you’re finished and use a slow wander through the portals as part of your cool-down. If you make it a habit, it’s harder to forget.

And that’s pretty much all I’ve got. If you can think of another way to make sure you do that daily hack, let me know in the comments below.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Writing Life: The Writing

To be a writer, you have to write. You have to write regularly. And you have to finish what you write.

To be earning a living from your work, you have to publish your work and have it available for sale—and even that might not be enough.

The only advice I have on this, is find time to write every day, but don’t kick yourself when life happens. After that, I would say decide what you want to publish and when, and look at what you are working on. If you don’t write short fiction, then a fortnightly schedule might be a bit unrealistic. If you can’t write more than a thousand words a day, then expecting to release a 100,000-word novel each quarter is probably too much.

Look at what you want to achieve, and then break it down into the time-frame you want to achieve it in, but keep your capabilities and real-life demands in mind. Build in a little bit of flexibility, days for being sick, family holiday, time for fitness. I call this ‘fudge time’, and I don’t mean the chocolate. I mean time for things to be fudged up so that you can recover from them and stay on schedule.

Don’t build in too much, though, or there’s a chance you’ll write less than you could, and life’s unexpectedness will affect you anyway. Just keep your expectations real—which is harder than it looks, as any of you will know from following this blog. Be prepared to adjust your expectations of yourself to the reality of your capabilities. And forgive yourself when you set the target too high, and need to adjust. Learn to accept yourself for who you are, and not an ideal you can’t achieve.

Also, there are days when the story won’t cooperate, when you need to research, when finding the words is like mining Tassie granite, when you write 209 words in three hours instead of the usual three or four thousand. There are days when you’ll have a new idea pop into your head that needs to be written down before you can keep going on the old one, and days when you just have to work on something else.

Let yourself do these things BUT set yourself a minimum, so you stay on track for the publication date. Decide on a focus project, and work on that FIRST. Have two documents open if you must. Switch between them as the muse demands, but work on that main project each and every day. You cannot finish anything in a decent timeframe without keeping it consistently on track. How you do that is up to you.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

PDF for GIMP Cover Creation

Free - just like the program.

Here is a very basic run-through of what I learned about building a cover using GIMP.

I hope it helps.