Wireless woes

I’m really not trying to get out of posting Wednesday stuff. It’s just that fate seems to be conspiring against me. Last week, I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. This time around, the illness has moved to my wireless router.

It started a couple of weeks ago, when my trusty old RT-N16 started acting up. Wireless speeds became unbearably slow, and latency was horrible. (We’re talking a 200 ms ping to the next room.) So, after eliminating all other potential sources of trouble, I bought a new router: an RT-AC66, also by Asus.

That, apparently, was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the AC66 is a great router. But there’s a big problem, and it turns out that it’s the same problem that the N16 had.

After some research, I think I’ve pinpointed the problem: the wireless chipset. Both routers use essentially the same one for the 2.4 GHz band. And both of them use essentially the same firmware, thus the same driver for that chipset. That driver, however, doesn’t exactly work.

On various forums, Asus support people have said that a fix is in the works. They’ve said this in posts dating back to 2013, in fact. Yet no fix has solved all the problems.

So I’ve got a few options. I could try alternate firmware (DD-WRT, for example). That’s a road fraught with peril, as you may know, and there’s no guarantee it would really help. So, I’m going with option 2: get a third router. This one is a TP-LINK Archer C7. It’s a different manufacturer and a different chipset. That, of course, will mean a different set of problems, but (hopefully) some that are fixable.

Sick Day

Since I’ve had a pretty bad cold these last few days (I’m writing this on Monday, but I have no real reason to think I’ll be over it in the next 48 hours), and since I don’t already have posts queued for Wednesday, I’ve decided to take the day off. Sorry ’bout that, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I’ve had this Friday’s post written for over a month, so no worries there, and I did have two worldbuilding posts already, so I’m alright for next Monday. It’s just today that got lost in the shuffle. Oh, well. ‘Tis the season, and all that.

At the starting gate

When this post goes up, it’ll be Halloween, even though I’m writing it a couple of days ahead of time. Tomorrow, then, will be November 1st, and that means it’s time to write a novel. Officially, this isn’t NaNoWriMo, because I’m not following their rules to the letter. But I am going by what I feel is the original spirit of the challenge.

So here’s the goal: 50,000 words or a complete novel, whichever comes first. The deadline? Midnight on the 30th. Each day, I’ll try to post a little update about my progress. This certainly won’t be some kind of live blog, though, so don’t expect up-to-the-minute results. After all, I can only write so much. Regular posts (writing stuff on Mondays, code on Wednesdays, conlangs on Fridays) will resume December 2. Until then, I’ll be in hardcore writing mode.

I already have the basic idea for the story I’ll be writing. It’s a continuation of the one I did in 2013. To be honest, I have written parts 2 and 3, along with about half of part 4, but I’ve decided to scrap that work, because I have a better understanding of the setting now, and the old parts don’t fit into it anymore. (Technically, NaNoWriMo requires an original story, and you’re not supposed to start thinking about it until October. Yet another reason why I’m not following the letter of the rules.)

Now, my sleeping schedule is a bit…odd, and my writing schedule is even worse, so I’m not going to schedule these daily updates like I have been with everything else on the site. They’ll go up when I feel I’m “done” writing for the day. That may be at 2 PM or 2 AM. There’s not much I can do about that, short of forcing myself to stay on a schedule, and…let’s just say that circumstances tend conspire against that.

If you want to play along at home, that’s great! Whether you stick to the NaNoWriMo rules or follow my lead and take it easy, just go for it. If you can’t do it, there’s always next year.

Calm before the storm

October is almost over, and November is upon us. November, as you may know, is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you’ve never tried this, it’s a great time to give it a shot. I will be, and I’ll have a post up later this week about how that will affect the update schedule here. (There’s no way I could write an average of 1,667 words per day on a novel and 3 posts a week on here, and I don’t have enough of a backlog to make up the difference, so something has to give.)

With this break in the schedule, though, I’ll have time to come up with more ideas for posts in all three of the main categories (writing, code, and languages). Then, when December rolls around and I get back to regular posting, I’ll be able to build up a bigger and better queue, which will give me a little bit more free time.

Here’s what I’ve got so far, starting with the “prose” part of Prose Poetry Code (I’ll get to that “poetry” part one of these days, I promise!):

  • Politics and religion in a fantasy world
  • Colonization, in both sci-fi and general fiction
  • A look at space battles, and how they might really play out
  • A set of posts about alien life, including what’s plausible, possible, and maybe even likely
  • An irregular series about the interaction between magic and technology, covering both “technomancy” and “magitech”

For the coding aspect, I’ve got some ideas about C++, ES6, game programming, procedural generation, and a few others. As for Let’s Make a Language, well, the second half of Part 8 will go up on Friday, and I have plans out to Part 13. Since each part takes 2-3 posts, that’s at least a good two months’ worth of content. I’ve also got a couple of themes for more general conlang posts that don’t fit the series, and I can slot them in whenever I need a break from creation.

So that’s what you have to look forward to, starting in December. Again, in a few days I’ll give an update on what will happen over the course of next month, including my plans to write a novel in 30 days.

Release: Before I Wake

So I’ve written my first book. Actually, I finished writing it months ago. Editing, cover design, and all that other stuff that the pros get done for them took up the rest of the time. However you want to put it, it’s done. Here’s the page I’ve set up for it on this site. In there, you can find some info about the book, as well as links to anywhere I’ve put it up for sale. As of right now, that’s only Amazon, but I hope to expand the list eventually.

With this release, I’ve also taken the time to do some minor redecorating. Namely, the sidebar. I’ve added two sections over there. One of them has a list of my published works, something that will (hopefully!) grow to be much longer in the coming months and years. Below that is another list for ebooks that aren’t mine. I’m not the only writer in my family, and family sticks together, so I don’t mind giving a little bit of publicity. The first entry is my brother’s debut novella, Angel’s Sin. It’s firmly in the genre of fantasy erotica, and it’s a bit…odd, so be warned. Anyway, that’s another list that will grow in the future.

I won’t claim that Before I Wake is any great story. I like to think of it as the greatest novel I’ve ever written, but there’s only one other competitor for that title, and it’s…not that good. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. Who knows? However it turns out, I’ve discovered that I like to write. So I’m going to keep on doing that. Surely I can’t be the worst author ever.

Off week

I’m not doing a programming post this week. Sorry about that. Normally, I have things scheduled at least a week in advance, and that’s true now. But I’ve still decided to take the week off. Why? Upgrades. Specifically, I’ve been upgrading my main desktop.

I have two PCs, a desktop and a laptop, both running different flavors of Linux. The laptop runs Ubuntu (currently 12.04, because it’s old and I’m not particularly keen on running through the hassle of an Ubuntu upgrade, even an LTS one), and it’s not really a problem. The desktop, though, is where I’ve been bolder. It’s currently running Debian Testing, and that is where the problem lies.

If you don’t know, Debian has a three-way division of versions. There’s Stable, which is just what you’d expect; once it comes out, it’s pretty much fixed, only receiving the security fixes and the occasional backport. Testing—the one I’m using—is more up to date, at the risk of causing possible breakage. And then Unstable is the “raw” form, the absolute newest versions of almost everything, bugs or no bugs.

Packages (applications like LibreOffice or libraries like libpng) start off in Unstable with each new version. If nobody finds any critical bugs after a few days, and there’s no other reason to hold things up, then it moves into Testing. Every couple of years (give or take), Testing is “frozen”, and the new Stable is made from that. It’s a slick process…most of the time.

A few weeks ago, fate conspired to throw a wrench into this well-oiled machine. KDE, the desktop environment that I use on the Debian computer, started a major upgrade, from version 4 to version 5. (There’s a whole big change in branding, but I don’t care about the details. In my mind, it’s KDE 5, and that’s that.) This broke a lot of things, because KDE 5 uses new libraries, new modules, and even a few new applications. So I held off on updating that for a while.

But that’s not all. KDE, like many other parts of a working Linux system, is written in C++. And C++ has had some recent major changes itself, namely the C++11 update to the standard. With C++11 comes a new ABI. This goes all the way down the stack to the compiler, GCC, which implemented the new ABI as part of its own version 5 upgrade. That was a major change that would break more than a few things, so I held off on that update, too.

Earlier this week, though, I decided to take the plunge. The main reason that prompted this was some seemingly unrelated library update that broke the integration between KDE and GTK+ that made certain applications (like Iceweasel, Debian’s “de-branded” Firefox) look horribly out of place.

So I did it. Things broke, but I’ve been able to put most of them back together. KDE 5 is…not too bad, compared to 4. It’s early yet, so I’ll give it a little time before I come to a final decision. But my initial impression is that it’s what Windows 8 was trying to be. Like Windows 8, it changes a lot of things for no good reason, leaving users to find a way to put them back the way they were. But it’s nowhere near as bad as the transition from KDE 3 to 4, from what I’ve heard. It’s the combination of the KDE upgrade and the C++ ABI transition that made things so bad. Now, though, the worst is (hopefully) behind me, and I’ll be able to get back to regular posting next week.