Inhuman Swill : Page 52
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Recompense

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Speaking of electrical problems, do you remember that nine-day blackout we had in Queens a couple of years ago? I swung by the old apartment one day last week to pick up our mail (which our stupid old post office has thus far utterly failed to forward), and found amongst the pieces a check from ConEd back in New York. It was a hundred bucks in compensation for the power outage. We didn't have it as bad as some, since for some reason we at least had power for the appliances in the back half of our apartment, but hey, I'm not going to turn down money from a utility. In fact, given the state of banks lately, I deposited it as fast as I could.

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My loose screw

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Changing Spaces
It's been almost three weeks since we moved into our new apartment, but I remember it like it was ... well, twenty days ago.

Things were going great. Three strong men had made short work of our boxes, which were now stacked neatly in the truck. Laura and her mother were ready to follow the truck to the new place in her mother's car and oversee the start of the unloading. The dog and I were going to stick around for a bit to tie up some loose ends, then join up with everyone else at the new place.

Good thing I slipped behind the wheel of our car to take the prime parking space my mother-in-law was about vacate. When I turned the key, nothing happened. Not a click.

I should have known this was coming. For a week or so, the car had been taking longer and longer to turn over, the starter motor hacking like a heavy smoker. This time the battery was obviously completely dead. My mother-in-law had no jumper cables, and neither did the movers. But at least I hadn't discovered this with Ella on my hands after everyone else had left.

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Anticipating the dark

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I'm delighted to see that my short story "Colin and Ishmael in the Dark" will run on PodCastle on October 24th, just a week before Halloween. The story is mostly dialog and takes place in pitch darkness, and I've always thought it would play best as an audio work, so I couldn't be more excited to hear it. I haven't heard who the reader is, but I know M.K. Hobson is doing the introduction, which should be a hoot.

The story was originally published by [info]scottedelman in Science Fiction Age in 1993—Jesus Christ, Scott, that's fifteen years ago!—and it was only my second professional sale.

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Ancient climate change

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Meanwhile, back in Chicago, we're going to Schuba's tonight for this week's Field Museum Café Science lecture, on ancient climate change. The speaker is the brother of one of Laura's coworkers. Science and beer, what could be better?

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Down to London

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So, if we were going to London next week on the cheap, what sorts of things should we not miss that guidebooks would not tell us about?

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Banner seen on Chicago bar

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BEER: Now Less Expensive Than Gas

DRINK, DON'T DRIVE

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Subversion

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Thanks to everyone who weighed in yesterday on my version-control questions. I know it may seem like overkill, and I'm prepared to be made fun of, but I finally decided to go with Subversion (a/k/a SVN), which I'm running through Apache 2.2 with SSL on one of my boxes here.

A lot of factors came into play for me. We have several computers at home, and I like to be able to work on whichever one is convenient, which means it's nice to be able to grab the latest copies of drafts and my notes quickly from wherever I am. I need to be able to do this from outside our home network, in case I'm around the corner at the coffee shop, on the road, or over at the Writers Workspace. And since I obstinately continue to work in WordPerfect, I can't rely on solutions like Google Docs that are geared specifically toward Word files. Since I've been using CVS for years, SVN seemed like a natural step up for me, since it's similar but does a lot of things more smartly.

The coolest part of this whole setup, to me, is the SVN client I'm using, TortoiseSVN. This lets you access all the SVN commands from right-click menus directly in Windows Explorer. It also adds layover icons to the file icons so you can see at a glance what files and directories need to be committed. And SVN itself handles tasks like renaming and moving files and directories so much better than CVS, I wonder why I didn't start using it for code a long time ago.

I already use a free dynamic IP address from DynDNS to access my home music server from the outside world, and I'll use that to access my SVN repository from out there as well. The one slightly tricky thing that hung me up for a long time last night was writing a Perl script I could run on my laptop from the outside world to update the "svn" alias in my HOSTS file from an internal IP address to the current value of my network's dynamic external IP. That way I would never have to change the URL through which my laptop attempts to access the SVN repository.

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Version control

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A technical question for you techie writer types out there. Do you use version-control software to keep a repository of your work? If so, what? What platform do you run it on? What do you like? What don't you? I know CVS pretty well from my programmer days, but I'm not sure that's what I want to use for my writing. Maybe Subversion? SVK? I've just started looking into this, and there are a whole lot of options.

I used to just use the Windows Briefcase to keep my writing in sync between machines, but my new laptop with Vista doesn't seem to implement Briefcase in a way that's entirely compatible with older versions, and anyway it doesn't do squat to keep copies of older drafts around. I'd like to start doing something a little more sophisticated than that.

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What's your favorite subgenre?

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I'm part of this week's "Mind Meld" over at SFSignal.com. The question under discussion is: "What's your favorite sub-genre of science fiction and/or fantasy?"

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Too much light and all that

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One of the surprises of our new neighborhood is that we're a rather short walk from the legendary Neo-Futurarium. We rolled the die and came up winners.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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