July 2013 Update

By Jamie Alan Belanger on July 1, 2013 4:00 pm · 0 Comments

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a monthly update. The intention was always there, but I always end up doing something else. I spend a lot of time on various projects, and many days I honestly couldn’t tell you what I’ve been working on. Heck, this post started as a June 2013 update, and look where that got me.

Some people ask me what it is I do all day. I’m always so busy, and quite often more than a little tired, but why? Well, this is a post for those who wonder; a glimpse into all the projects I work on and all that I do.

Part of me wants to make a post for each category on this blog to give specific details about my various projects. But another part of me knows that if I try that then I’ll most likely just spend so much time editing each post that they won’t be posted until August, or later. I have so many projects I started and have not been able to finish. Sometimes I think I have too many projects, too many interests. My TODO management software says I have 40 projects, but I know the truth. There’s at least another 20, because I still have TODO items in plain text files that I have not yet taken the time to move into my TODO software (ironically, that’s one of the items on my TODO list).

So without further ado, here is a glimpse at my recent work, and some of the things to come:

 

Utilities

I wrote a post in April about doing some hackathons, and if you were following that you probably wondered what happened. I started working on my revamped timeline webpage for the Terran Shift universe and ran into a few snags. While trying to resolve those, my interest waned and I started working on other projects. An update here, a tweak there. Next thing I know, it’s June. Wait, now it’s July. What happened to May? I managed to work on everything¬†except what I set out to work on. In some ways, that’s good, because all those other projects needed some attention too. But I hate when projects I want to work on get neglected. Again, I think I just have too many projects. I waste far too much time wishing I had more time. Didn’t Da Vinci figure out a way to sleep only two hours a day and still be productive? I really should look into that…

When it comes to software and utilities, I still have many projects that I want to finish. Some of the ones I’ve talked about before include:

  • Timeline Control – for both the Terran Shift and the Palamar websites (and that website needs some lovin’ too)
  • Batch Image Converter – yes, I still intend to give this program some much-needed updates. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please click here and tell us what you’d like to see. I want to revamp the interface and give it the ability to check for updated versions (but I won’t make it silently update like Dropbox did; I hate that so much).
  • My TODO Manager – which works quite well, yet needs quite a few updates before I’m ready to even consider showing it off.
  • My Company’s Sales Management Database – I wrote some web-based admin pages for keeping track of all my company’s sales and the royalties we owe the authors we work with. I tweak it from time to time and add new features. I eventually want to wrap this in with the TODO manager, so I can manage my entire company from one application.

 

Games

Honestly, I haven’t done any game programming since the last time I updated Anirah. Regrettably, this section of our company has taken a back burner, and for far too long. I have been planning our next game for a couple of years now, and have written some code. I need to get back to it. And then I need to move on to other games that we’ve also been planning for years.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time looking at documentation and trying to learn Unity 3D, as an alternative to having to hand-code everything. And then there’s other products like Desura and Google Play, for adding social aspects, leader boards, and achievements. I would love to make updated versions of Catalyst Deluxe and Anirah that include those features.

 

Writing and Publishing

Books are where most of my time has been going for the past few years. Not just writing, but publishing, and trying to figure out marketing. I have to teach myself all of this stuff, and have been relying pretty heavily on the work of others — like the writings of Seth Godin and Mark Coker to name a few. It’s been a great and interesting journey, but it really does take up a lot of time that I could be spending on other projects.

I guess I could have added another entry under Utilities for all the Linux shell scripts I’ve been writing to help automate my publishing work. My hope is that, some day, I can have enough well-written scripts that most of my publishing work is automated. I know I can’t automate everything, but even just typing one command to have EPUB and MOBI files built and tested in under two seconds makes compiling the final ebooks so much easier. I think my next step will be automating as much of the initial EPUB html file building as possible.

If I had a lot more hours in a day, I would write and edit all of these planned novels below. Currently, I am planning to write them in this order. Feel free to comment or email me to plead for a change in this order.

  1. Fireteam Zulu 2 – I started writing a sequel over a year ago. It’s still not done, and actually the scope of the ideas have expanded so much I think it’s going to be two more books. Maybe three.
  2. Pariah 2 – His story is certainly not done, as evidenced in the short story The Soul Bank. I have plans for two more books with his character, taking place in the Bio-Tech Era of the Terran Shift universe. I also have weird notes that could evolve into more novels and short stories with him.
  3. Option 27 – a sort of military / political thriller in the Terran Shift universe that I planned to write with Paul.
  4. Chronicles of Palamar – I haven’t published much fantasy; just a couple stories in Scribings Vol 1 and 2. This idea is going to be the cornerstone of the World of Palamar, a 9-book series that I started planning in 2004 or so.
  5. Worlds Asunder – Another series of books set in the World of Palamar, this was actually started more than a decade ago by Paul and our other brother David. I’m going to help edit and finish the 6-book series.

There are more ideas in my TODO list, but nothing really concrete yet. Still, this is a lot of writing, and editing, and publishing.

 

Photography

A few months ago, my camera (a Panasonic DMC-TZ3) started having a weird issue. The screen was showing all these pink and purple lines. At first I thought the screen was dying, but then I noticed the same lines on the pictures too. As near as I can figure, the light sensor is dying. It would cost me about $35 to get a new light sensor, and then I’d have to figure out how to install it. A quick check on Ebay revealed the current value of the camera: about $25.

Knowing that, I figured it didn’t make sense to do much of anything with the camera. So I set out on a two-month journey of researching cameras. I eventually settled on the Canon Rebel line, which seemed to have several big advantages. First, they are DSLR cameras, so it’s a much more professional camera and the next step up that I needed to take with my photography. Second, even getting an entry-level Rebel camera seemed worth it because of the lenses — I can purchase and use multiple lenses, and then upgrade the camera base when I’m ready and continue to use the same lenses with the new camera.

So I waited for a good price, and ended up purchasing a Canon Rebel T3i bundle at Sam’s Club last month for about $750. The bundle came with the camera base, a nice bag, and two lenses. I’ve been reading the manual and taking lots of pictures. I’m happy with the quality, and love the image stabilization built into the lenses, but can tell I still have a lot to learn about how to use this new equipment. I need to spend some time editing the pictures I’ve taken so I can post them to my Flickr page. I have gotten some rather amazing pictures, but I know this camera will let me capture even better ones.

 

Wait, It Gets Worse

The above are just the tangible near-future projects I am working on for myself and my company. I have a number of other random projects that I work on. Sometimes I spend entire days on these projects. Other times, I merely dip my hands in to review or tweak a few things. But they are always there, somewhere, cluttering my mind. These projects include:

  • Genealogy – I was never really interested in genealogy until my father passed away. Then I sort of inherited all of his notes (nobody else wanted to deal with it). Since then, I’ve spent some time looking through the notes and organizing, digitizing, and archiving them. I also have a family pictures database that I’ve been maintaining since Paul and I scanned all our photographs and slides years ago. It’s in desperate need of organization and indexing, but with over 21,000 files and almost 60 gigabytes of disk space, the task is a little daunting.
  • My Own RPG – Have you figured out yet just how insane my mind and ambitions are? If not, well, then know that I have been developing my own role-playing game system. I wanted my own system, built from the ground up, that could be used in both table-top and computer games. I’m designing it to function with the Terran Shift universe, the World of Palamar, and all the other possible worlds I can dream up. If you’ve read Fireteam Zulu, you’d know this idea evolved into the CrossWorlds Station, where players can immerse themselves in massively multiplayer games and can hop from world to world, from genre to genre.
  • Game Mods – Paul and I sometimes play older games, but playing is never quite enough for us. We have to turn everything into a project. We are actively making and tweaking maps for Warcraft II. We also are building and tweaking our own custom mod for SWAT 4. We occasionally play Luggage DOOM too, and still plan some updates for that code.

 

Well, that’s a glimpse into what I do. There’s more, lots more, but I won’t get into everything now because (a) there are some things I want to keep secret for now, and (b) I’m tired of typing.

I can’t say what I do on any given day because, quite frankly, I often work so much I forget what day it is. Especially if Paul is gone on a trip. Then I have nothing to remind me of what day or time it is except my tablet (beeping to warn me of impending meetings), the sun (which goes down way too quickly), and my own weary body (which sometimes falls asleep at my desk). Some days I spend all day as busy as can be, and at the end I have no idea what I actually accomplished. Speaking of which, I should get back to work…

 


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