Random Things

The iPad 2 was unveiled the other day by a skeletal Steve Jobs. It looks neat, and it's clearly designed to entice the next crop of people who held off on the first one. Faster, slightly different shape, new cover, etc. They've got a good product, and I suspect that anyone who's waited a little while will be happy that they did.

That being said, I'm not planning on upgrading mine for, well, ever. It's a fantastic product (and I'm decidedly not an Apple fanboy) that I've gotten a lot of use out of since I got mine 8 months ago. I do a lot of writing on mine, and I've been happy that it's an all around general computer that does pretty much everything I want it to. I don't do a lot of web browsing on it, but when I have, I've generally been pleased. (My one complaint is Safari's insistence on updating every single open tab when there's a couple open. It's annoying). Writing is fantastic, and as predicted, I've gotten better at writing on the screen. Moreover, I use the calendar a LOT. Since I take the thing everywhere, I've gotten into the habit of writing down dates, something that I've typically never done, and it's nice to have a reminder when I need to be somewhere.

Plus, game developers are starting to get in on the platform, and there have been some very cool games over the past couple of months that I've gotten hooked on. There's the obligitory Angry Birds obsession, and I've found two other games lately, Battleheart and Canabalt, that I've really enjoyed. Battleheart is a fun cross between World of Warcraft and D&D, which appeals to my geek sensibilities, and Canabalt is a game that's stupidly simple, and stupidly addicting (running and jumping over gaps on a roof).

I've been reading more books on the device as well, mainly late at night, when I don't want to turn on a light and keep Megan up. It's not something that I read a lot - I'm currently reviewing Embedded, by Dan Abnett for SF Signal, and between late night reading sessions, I typically pull out my other book, Kraken, which I've got in hardcopy.

I also haven't upgraded my iPad since I got it - it's still on the original iOS system, which I'm content with. I'm not particularly won over by the introduction of folders, or the removal of the lock switch (which I really like having). It was fine when I got it, and I'm still pleased with the purchase.

I've had the pleasure of writing for the website Blastr a number of times over the past couple of months (the articles that I've written are linked in the 'Writing' tab here), coming up with lists on all sorts of things when it comes to science fiction. It's fun to relate what we love to read and watch to current events or to pick apart a franchise for things, and while it's not particularly smart writing, it's fun writing, and I'm really enjoying delving into a topic and finding a wide range of things.

By far, my favorite one to write thus far has been the '83 Crazy Differences Between Fringe’s Alternative Universe and Ours' piece, which allowed me to look at one of my favorite shows, Fringe. There have been a couple of things added, and if the show goes on, I'm sure that we'll be able to add an update to it at some point.

Lists by themselves are meaningless, I think: the usual top ten or top one hundred lists of the 'best' and 'favorite' types are always so contingent on people's individual tastes - and they fall into either the list of safe choices, where few people can argue about the selections, or a bunch of obscure or other ones that gets people arguing about everything that wasn't on the list. It's frustrating to read comments, I'm finding, because people either don't read the article and think about it, or read it and ignore what you're trying to put forward.

Such is life. I've got a couple of lists that I'm working on, and I’m excited about what's to come.

Last year, a friend of mine and I started up a website called Geek Mountain State (a play off of Green Mountain State), designed as a catch all for all things geek in Vermont. So far, it's been quite a lot of fun to write for. The idea for the site goes back to 2009, when I was driving out to Middlebury for a talk by author P.W. Singer, who wrote a book called Wired For War, (I wrote a review for the book for io9, here, and interviewed Mr. Singer, here.) an examination of robotics in the battlefield. It struck me that there were probably more talks like that around the state. Over a year and a half later, I've heard more and more about all types of science and technology news, commentary on the future, politics, geeky events and things along those lines throughout the state, and after speaking with a friend of mine, we decided that the idea had merit, and we decided to launch a blog, along with a Twitter and Facebook feed, to capture these sorts of things happening around the state.

Looking at almost 30 other websites, we've been able to update a daily list of events happening throughout the state that relate to geek interests, either in the typical geek interest levels, such as science and technology, but also gaming and book signings, while we prowl through Flickr and online for photos of niche things that catch our interest: ruins, wind farms, bookstores, and quite a lot more, along with blurbs and links to articles that fall under the same heading, as well as short pieces that I'll put together.

The site's not quite where I want it yet - I'd love to see a larger audience (it's certainly growing though), and eventually, our own domain that we can maintain ourselves. We've got some ideas that we'll implement as time goes on - I'd love to begin interviewing people in all walks of geek life, get some more original articles, new writers, and monetize the site on a local level, for local businesses, but some of that is pretty far down the line. Eventually, I'd love to get to the point where we can solicit and commission local science fiction and fantasy (and pay people to do it!), but I don't know how to get there yet. Personally, I'd love to see an anthology of local speculative fiction, by local people - that would be beyond cool.