Sep 07 2010

Returning to What Passes For Reality…

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Steampunk Gneech is steampunkishWell! I’m home after what has been a … unique … Dragon*Con. You remember all that stuff that happened to Mrs Gneech and me? The pet hotel debacle? The fall on the escalator? There was also a fire at the hotel. What a weekend!

On the other hand, I met some cool new folks, completed my long-worked-on collection of MST3K signatures, got a ton of development work done on the new comic, and took part in a World Record attempt (for largest collection of steampunk costumes in a photo).

As you can probably tell, I spent a lot of time in the steampunk track, where apparently I fit in like the proverbial bug in a rug. Having hitherto not been much involved in the contemporary steampunk scene, I spent most of the time simply going to panels and soaking up what people had to say, but I was pleased to discover that a lot of the people in the fandom have similar opinions to mine in regards to such things as the preponderance of brown, the rather silly nature of goggles on a top hat, and the fact that “steampunk” is kind of a crap term. It was fun to sort of come into it as an outsider (Technomancer’s Toybox and similar things notwithstanding) and still feel like I had something to offer. One of the editors for Kerlak Publishing, when I mentioned that I’d be starting a steampunk(-ish) comic early next year, perked right up and was eager to be in the loop about it.

As for Dragon*Con itself … it’s suffering from growing pains in a major way. The ratio of costumers to non-costumers took a serious nosedive this time around (particularly as many members of the 501st Legion didn’t come this time around, I hear); and there were entirely too many panels that you simply couldn’t get in to see. I’m seriously worried that Dragon*Con will fall prey to the famous Yogi Berra quote, “Nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded.” If I wanted to go to a con where I couldn’t get into any panels, couldn’t navigate the dealer room for the crowd, and couldn’t see any costumes, I’d go to San Diego Comic-Con. :P There are also way too many non-geeks (who don’t buy badges and don’t support the con) crashing the party. One commenter I heard referred to it being like “Nerdy Gras” — partiers with nothing better to do are coming to get trashed and get free entertainment by looking at the geeks.

The good news is, people are starting to recognize the problem; what steps can reasonably be taken to deal with it, have yet to be seen. Personally, I think we should start a major advertising campaign talking about what a bunch of totally uncool nerds the people at Dragon*Con are and how unless you’re the kind of person who thinks math and historical romances make an interesting combination, you’ll be bored stiff there.

Anyway! I did have a very good time, down to sitting right among the MST3K cast members in the audience of the “Servo vs. Servo” panel and heckling Kevin Murphy and J. Elvis Weinstein with them. :) Got a lot of work done, met a lot of cool new people, and generally had a ball, so overall I’d say it was a smashing success.

-The Gneech

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Jun 08 2010

New Buttons!

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I realize it’s been kinda quiet at gneech.com for the past couple of weeks — life and work (mostly work) have conspired to keep me silent. But that’s finally lightening up a bit, and my latest batch of buttons just arrived from UPS today, so it’s time to break silence!

Over the years I’ve designed a lot of buttons to sell at conventions. Most of these have been specifically designed as merchandise for Suburban Jungle or NeverNever, but in keeping with the general broadening of my focus these days, I’ve decided to go with some more universal appeal. The new batch of buttons have some roleplaying motifs (I particularly like the “Button of Charisma +2”), some computer nerdery (“iGeek”), and a handful of designs that are just … interesting, such as the one pictured here.

This was a pretty small run, only ten of each, and they’ll be making their debut at AnthroCon. Whatever’s left after AC, if any are, will hopefully go up on Merchandise Maven shortly thereafter.

-The Gneech

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May 07 2010

What the Heck? 0.o

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From a review of “Black Dragon Codex” … put out (if you trace it back far enough) by WotC of all places.

“Enough!” Gneech barked. “You two, always fighting! Traps are good. If we find no traps, then they had nothing to protect–or someone been here before. Traps mean this right way!” His voice raised into a screech as the little goblin beat both of them lightly with the length of his weapon. “So you both stop fighting and shut up, or the ogres will find us from you making . . . so . . . much . . .”–Gneech’s staff slowly came to a frozen halt, and his wide, flat eyes peered down the corridor behind him–“. . . noise. Uh-oh.”

Apparently somebody’s written an unauthorized biography of me … or something.

-The Gneech

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Apr 30 2010

iPad Get! So How Is It, Really? (review)

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Gneech and his iPad! Let's hope they'll be happy together...

I thought about doing a spoof video of myself geekgasming as I opened the box a la Stephen Fry, I really did. But in the end, I was thwarted by the fact that Mrs. Gneech wasn’t here to operate the video camera, and that I was too bouncy to wait.

So, how is it really? Is it like a laptop? Or just an iPod? What’s the verdict?

Granted, I haven’t exactly been running the thing through its paces, but I did buy the limited 30 days of 3G access and took the thing with me on some errands, I played the first few minutes of “Sam and Max: The Penal Zone,” and now I’ve got it on the keyboard and I’m posting to my blog. So it’s not a bad little test. I haven’t tried the funkadelic “Periodic Table App” or keyboard toy — I’m looking for a gadget I will actually use, particularly when I’m at conventions. Really, that’s what I wanted it for, to replace my Old and Busted laptop with some New Hotness.

Overall, I like it. While it is heavier than it looks, it’s not so heavy as to be unmanageable. The interface takes a little getting used to, (although people with an iPod/iPhone/iWhatever already will have a much easier time) and the apps need a little more baking. On the other hand, sliding, swiping, and touching the screen quickly become second nature and it won’t be long before you’ll wonder how you managed so long struggling with a mouse.

Regarding the apps, most of the ones ready out of the gate are just iPhone apps with either a big black margin, or blown up to double size and fuzzy as all get out, so they will take some time to catch up. Stanza particularly suffers here, because if you double the size of the app, and then shrink the font down in order to get more words on the screen, they’re still fuzzy from being blown up. Guh. That would quickly give me a headache. The iBook and Kindle apps are much nicer in this regard. iPad native apps that make better use of the larger screen real estate are much better, and by this time next year there will be a lot of awesomeness in that department. (I haven’t tried out the native word processor yet; I’m not sure if I want to go that route or just write to the cloud with Google docs or something. I have yet to see how much writing on the road I’ll actually want to do.)

I will say, the shiny shiny screen can be a turnoff, especially once it’s covered in thumbprints. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is just a tad annoying.

Still, the iPad is exactly what I expected it to be — the first generation of a new and all together different type of computer. This is going to be the “pushbutton easy” machine that will start showing up everywhere — in the doctor’s office to call up patient records, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office in place of a magazine or portable game, in the kitchen looking up recipes, lying in bed and watching that episode of Doctor Who you missed last week, sitting on the tray in front of you on the plane and showing a movie you actually want to see. It’s the internet from your comfy chair. It’s your e-mail while you’re riding the bus. It’s gonna be big.

That said, I don’t necessarily recommend running out and buying one now, unless you particularly want one right now. For me, the iPad came at just about the perfect time, as I was looking to replace my laptop anyway and had the money allocated to spend. Certainly, the apps could use some time to cook, and no doubt next year’s model will have a camera and better multitasking (i.e., any at all).

But if you find yourself gazing longingly at one and you’ve got the money to spend, I say go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

-The Gneech

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Apr 19 2010

Brigid and Greg E-Books, W00t!

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Gneech and his sexy, sexy iPhone.

Because I love you all, I spent the weekend compiling the Brigid and Greg fictionlets into e-book form, two volumes of 100 fictionlets each which should be much easier to read than going post-by-post here on gneech.com. You can get them here:

These two volumes will bring you almost up-to-date (into late 2009, anyway); from there, I have in mind to do a new volume for every hundred new fictionlets.

As far as I can tell, every major e-book platform is represented, although it may take a little while for the books to propagate to Sony, B&N, and so on. I know for a fact that they’re already available for Stanza (the version the goofy mug in the photo above is holding). The cost is a low, low $0.99 (which is basically the minimum amount that most distributors will let me charge).

Since the books went up, I’ve had inquiries about doing print versions, and I’ll be looking into that in the not-too-distant future as well, probably digest-size and distributed via Merchandise Maven. Meanwhile, fire up your Kindle/Nook/phone/iPad (*sob*) and enjoy!

(Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that even if you don’t have a separate e-reader, you can download free copies of Stanza, the Kindle reader, and so forth, or even just grab the books in good old-fashioned “plain text” and read ’em in your word processor of choice if you’re so inclined.)

Enjoy!

-The Gneech

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Apr 13 2010

Invisible iPad!

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Gneech types away manically at his ... er ... invisible iPad.

Well, the keyboard came today, anyhow.

…Curse you, late April!

-The Gneech

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