Author Archives: acflory

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes...

Boomers and #VR [virtual reality]

One of the first friends I ever made online is George, of Ready, Aim Click. George is also my go-to person for info on graphics, gaming and the tech that drives both. This is the eye-popping youtube video he just sent me:

If you’re getting a bit long in the tooth, like me, and wondering what all this VR bunk is all about, this video may change your mind about the value of the technology. I know, because it’s changed mine. I WANT IT NOW! -cough- Sorry.

The VR equipment you see in the video clip is probably top of the line and so expensive I can’t see me buying it any time soon. But…prices will drop, eventually, and when they do, this little old lady is going to be at the head of the queue. 😀



Australian invention for the micro-grid

“In distributed power generation, rather than having a massive centralized grid, you’re talking about much smaller micro-grids,” says Moghtaderi. “This system, in the Energy on Demand mode, has been designed for a micro-grid application. So essentially, if you deploy to a retirement village, and you hook it up to natural gas, that retirement village would be entirely independent of the national electricity network, and they can produce their own power and other utilities, 24/7.”

That quote comes from an exciting article I read in New Atlas today. Essentially, an Australian university – the University of Newcastle – and an Australian company called Infratech Industries have together developed ‘…a Chemical Looping Energy-on-Demand System (CLES)’ which not only generates electricity, but can store it as well.

CLES is the brainchild of Professor Behdad Moghtaderi of the University of Newcastle, and could well be the answer to Australia’s energy woes. Despite being a major exporter of natural gas, Australia has somehow mismanaged things so badly that now we are the ones likely to run out of power. It’s happened already in South Australia and is likely to happen in other states as well in the near future.

Tesla has offered to create a battery-powered fail-safe for us before next summer, but I’d much rather see Australia embrace a homegrown product, especially as it could lead to a rapid uptake of distributed power generation. If we get that right, we could export the technology to the rest of the world instead of continuing to rely on the export of resources. We have so much inventive talent here, let’s celebrate if for once instead of forcing it off-shore through lack of interest.

You can find the New Atlas article here:

And now an apology. I’ve been missing in action a bit lately, and it’s due to a number of things. First, my teaching schedule exploded unexpectedly. Second, I’ve been trying to complete the print version of Innerscape, and that has required upgrading some of my most critical software to ensure that the finished product is commercially ‘legal’. [For ebooks I use Storybox, which is fine, but for print I have to use a commercial version of Word, and I only had a ‘Home and Student’ version before]. Finally, I haven’t been well. Since about June last year, I’ve had recurring infections in my teeth which have resulted in having one tooth pulled and root canal treatments on three others.

Despite all the treatments, and the associated cost, I developed another infection last week, and I now have to go see an endodontist. Endodontists are dentists who specialise in root canal treatments [amongst other things]. My first appointment is next week. Until then I’m on antibiotics that hurt my stomach and anti-inflammatories that also hurt my stomach. Not sleeping very well either so…those creative juices just aren’t flowing. I will try to catch up with your creativeness though. 🙂



#FFXIV – decorating my new room

Non-gamers look away now!

Just a couple of pics of my room in the Tonberry FC. Absolutely adore the ‘rust red’ of the walls:


Okay, back to work now. -waves-





Nillumbik budget ‘highlights’, 2017-18

I live in North Warrandyte. That means I’m stuck with Nillumbik Shire Council. This is the most expensive council in Victoria. We pay an obscene amount in rates. This year, the council boasts that it won’t raise rates. Yay.

This is also the same council that wants Residents to embed their houses in the bush despite the bushfire danger. Clearly, they don’t believe that Black Saturday can ever happen again. The proof is in the priority they place on bushfire mitigation. The following figures are taken directly from ‘Living in the landscape’, the Nillumbik Shire Council newsletter. The only change I’ve made is to sort the table by the cost. Have a look at this council’s priorities:

As you can see, $1,100,000 is considered more than enough for ’emergency management’ while a sporting redevelopment deserves almost twice as much at $1,795,000. I guess they figure that when a massive bushfire comes through again, we’ll all be dead and won’t be able to complain about their disregard for our health and safety.


Electric roads coming to a year near you

One of the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles to overcome is the…inconvenience…of batteries. With a battery-dependent electric car, you can’t just drive into a service station and ‘fill’er up’. You have to wait, but we live in a society which has lost the art of patience. That is why we need to change the way we build roads:

We already have huge, road-building machines that lay bitumen at phenomenal speeds, so adapting them to build new, electric roads should not be a major problem. Adapating existing roads would be more time-consuming and expensive, but as the video clip shows, the technology is doable. Just imagine never having to worry about ‘filling ‘er up’ again!

For more details, please read this Quartz article:

Back in my post about distributed power generation via solar and Tesla batteries, I explained the idea of distributed power generation via our homes. The electric roads of the future could allow us to do something similar with transportation. Imagine a future in which the electricity grid is powered not by one or two huge, highly vulnerable power plants but by millions of distributed generators – in our cars, in the home, on top of our buildings etc. Instead of being at the mercy of prices set by power companies, we would become the power companies with onboard accounting systems updating our net ‘worth’ in real-time.

And who knows? Maybe after homes and roads, we’ll add small scale power generation to every object and device we use – like mini-generators in the heels of our shoes. So much better than Get Smart’s shoe phone. 😀



“A rose by any other name” could be a tur…nip

In my previous post – Miira, a sneak peek – I proudly displayed the cover I’d created for the first book of the print version of Innerscape. There would be three books in all – a proper trilogy – and the five, original episodes would be split between them:

  • Book 1 = Innerscape, Episodes 1 and 2,
  • Book 2 = Innerscape, Episodes 3 and 4,
  • Book 3 = Innerscape, Episode 5

As Episodes 1 and 2 focused mainly on Miira, I decided to call book one ‘Miira’, with a sub-title along the lines of:

  • book 1 of Innerscape, or
  • episodes 1 and 2 of Innerscape

And because it all seemed perfectly clear to me – how could it not when I’d been thinking about little else for weeks? – I assumed that it would be clear to everyone else as well. Dawn’s comment on the post brought me back to earth with an almighty crash. She asked:

is this going to be a reprint / new imprint / new version of Innerscape….or fresh and new Miira ?!!

That was the moment I realised how ripe for confusion my airy ideas for the print version had become.

A few seconds later, I realised something much, much worse – with brand new covers and a new name for each book, confusion would be the least of my worries. ‘Scam’ and ‘con’ would be more like it. The last thing I want is for anyone to buy Innerscape twice, but if someone who’s read Innerscape and knows me personally – like Dawn – can ask if this was something new, then how could I expect a complete stranger not to ask the same question…and be angry at the answer?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t sleep very well last night. I desperately want to hold a real live book in my hands, and I really like the design concept I came up with for the print version trilogy, but my original decision to publish Innerscape as a serial has finally come back to bite me on the bum. If I upgrade the ebooks to mirror the print version, readers can rightly accuse me of making a greedy grab for more money. Yet, even if I leave the ebooks exactly as they are, having such a different looking print version will still cause confusion.

Then, I had a thought. Amazon allows you to bundle print and ebook versions together! If I did that, maybe it wouldn’t matter…

Ah, but which ebook episode would I bundle? And would Amazon even allow it when the print and ebook versions aren’t exactly the same?

It was around my third cup of coffee this morning that I had a better thought, at least I hope it is. What if I leave the ebook episodes as they are and simply create one, single omnibus edition of the whole story? As an ebook, it won’t matter that Innerscape is huge, and so long as it’s clearly labelled as an ‘omnibus’ edition, there should be no confusion…

Or would an omnibus ebook simply add to the existing confusion?

I seriously don’t know any more. I really, really need some feedback on this one. And please don’t hold back out of kindness. If I get this wrong, complete strangers are going to be much less diplomatic than any of you. 😦





Miira – book 1 sneak peek

Okay. Finally an image I’m happy with. The bit on the right will be the front cover. The bit on the left the back cover. And the odd, transitional bit in the middle will become the spine. I don’t have exact measurements for the spine yet, but I can adjust the dimensions quite easily as the spine is made up of 2 separate vector images:

To give you some idea of how complicated this process was, here’s the same image broken down into its component parts. This first one is the background image:

On top of that sits a composite image made up of a vectored, coloured background:

and a vectored foreground:

The original of this foreground was used in the graphics I created for Innerscape Episodes 1 – 5. For the print version cover, however, I had to clean it up completely by ‘trimming’ out every wire…manually. Now, I can change the coloured background to anything I want and it will show through. Both the foreground and background images were a huge amount of work, but worth it in the end…I hope.

Then on top of these images sits another composite image. This is the portrait of Miira which is made up of a gilt frame [which had to be cut out and altered to fit the middle of the circuit board:

and this glorious picture I found on


The final touch was to add a suggestion of depth:

The outline rectangles are a very slight shade lighter than the pure black of the background. From a distance, they create an optical illusion which makes the face appear as if it’s set back inside the frame:

I still have the lettering of the Title etc to do, and that’ll be another learning curve, but for now I’d really love to know what you guys think. Oh, and the title will be ‘Miira’, but I’m still tossing up between ‘Miira, book 1 of Innerscape’ or ‘Miira, Episodes 1 and 2 of Innerscape’. Anyway, I’ve got a full day’s work today so I’d better get to it. 🙂




Please Don’t Buy My Book

As a reader, I do look at ‘Also Boughts’ in my never-ending quest to find new, favourite sci-fi authors. But…as a writer? -face palm-
Thanks for a great post, David. I’ll be doing some serious thinking as a result.

David Gaughran

I’m just back from The Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, Texas. I won’t try and capture the magic of the event – Kobo Mark does an excellent job – but I would like to talk about the big takeaway: the dangers of Also Bought pollution.

Also Boughts are probably the most important aspect of the entire Amazon recommendation ecostructure. And also the least understood.

They are much more than a little strip under your book’s description – they power a huge chunk of the recommendations that Amazon serves to readers.

The Also Boughts are what tells Amazon that the readers of my non-fiction also like reading Susan Kaye Quinn, Sean Platt and Johnny Truant. Amazon uses this data to decide who to recommend books to – because Amazon is always seeking to show readers the books they are most likely to purchase.

For this reason, it’s important to monitor your…

View original post 1,565 more words

Self-publishing via Word and Createspace – page setup

This is the second post in this series and this time, I’ll be showing you how to setup your Word document to match the Createspace template for your chosen trim size. If you’ve forgotten about templates and trim sizes, you can find the post explaining what they are, why you need them and where to find them…here.

Right. So in this post I will assume that:

  1. you have typed up your manuscript in Word or in a Word compatible format – e.g. Rich Text Format or .rtf for short.
  2. you want to change that manuscript to make it compatible with Createspace so the printing process goes smoothly
  3. you have decided on a trim size
  4. you have downloaded the appropriate template [from Createspace] specifically for that trim size
  5. you have looked at the template but did not change any of the settings

If any of these assumptions are incorrect, please go back to the overview article linked above and make sure you have everything that you need.

How to easily change the font and font size to match the Createspace template [of your choice]

The first step is to open Word. Then, open both your manuscript and the template document. The template document will look something like this:

I chose a trim size of 5.5 x 8.5 so this is the template for that trim size. Garamond is a common font, and 12 is an average font size. Your template may be different. One thing, however, is most most certain to be true – the font in the template will not match the font you used in your manuscript. Assuming you want to change the font in your manuscript, the following is the simplest, easiest way to do it. But…be warned before you begin – this method will change your title and chapter headings as well.

First, we have to select the entire document. There are two ways of doing this.

The first way is to hit the Ctrl key and the ‘a‘ key at the same time. Ctrl-a is a keyboard shortcut and will ‘select all’ on most apps.

The second way is to use the ribbon:

Microsoft Word 10 uses tabs so the ‘Select’ options are on the Home tab, at the top right of the ribbon as shown. Click ‘Select’ and then click ‘Select All’ from the dropdown options.

Your manuscript should now look like this:

WARNING: hitting the ‘Delete’ key or the spacebar when everything is selected can lead to the loss of your entire document. If you make a mistake and everything disappears, DO NOT PANIC. Simply click the ‘Undo’ button to cancel whatever you last did. The ‘Undo’ button can be found here:

You can also undo your last action by hitting Ctrl Z [Ctrl and ‘z’] on your keyboard.

Moving on. With the entire document highlighted as above, click the small arrow next to the font box as shown:

Select the appropriate font for your template. For mine it was ‘Garamond’.

With the document still highlighted in blue [i.e. selected] click the small arrow next to the font size box as shown:

Click on the appropriate font size and then click inside your document to de-select it. The blue highlighting should disappear.

The next change we will make is to adjust the alignment and first-line indent of each paragraph. To do this, click the small button in the Paragraph category on the Home tab of the Ribbon:

You should now be looking at the Paragraph dialog box as shown below. Here, you can specify how all the text in the document is aligned. As most books are justified, that is the option I’ve chosen under ‘General’. I’ve also chosen a first-line indent of 1 cm so that everyone can easily see where a new paragraph begins. This is important, imho, as I’ve also chosen ‘Single’ line spacing.

Finally, I’ve clicked on the option ‘Set as Default’ down at the bottom. Word then wants to know what I mean by default. Choosing ‘All documents…’ would change the Normal style for every Word document I create from here on in. I don’t want to do that so I selected ‘This document only’.


Click on ‘OK’ and you will notice that…nothing has changed!

Don’t panic. In reality, the Normal style has changed, we simply have to tell Word to reflect those changes in the document. To do this, Select All again, and when the whole document is highlighted in blue, click the Normal style as shown:

Ta dah…the first big change is complete. The headings still need to be fixed up but that can wait. The next thing we need to do is change the size of the ‘paper’ so that we can start to see roughly how many pages this document really contains.

Changing the paper size to reflect the trim size of our ‘book’

To find out what is the correct paper size for our book, open the template document. Then open the ‘Page Layout’ tab of the Ribbon. With the Page Layout tab open, click the small button under the Page Setup group of functions:

You should now be looking at the Page Setup dialog box for your template. Under ‘Paper size’ you should have a number in cm for width and height. Write those 2 numbers down. Then click on the Margins tab. Again, you should write the margin numbers down and note whether ‘Mirror margins’ are specified. The following screenshots are from my template:

Now, go back to your own document, open the Page Layout tab and click on the small button to open the Page Setup dialog box. You should be looking at the tab for Paper. Click inside the ‘Paper size’ boxes and type in the dimensions that were shown in the template document. Mine looks like this:

Next, click the Margins tab and again, type in the numbers you found in your template. Mine looks like this:

Congratulations! You’ve changed some of the most important aspects of your manuscript to reflect the Createspace template.

But there is still a great deal to do. The Title and Headings will have to be fixed and to do that we will change the default styles to make the changes quick and easy. The book will also need page numbering, but some parts should not have page numbers – e.g. the Title page – so first we will have to insert section breaks. As well as making sure the page numbering is correct, section breaks are necessary to ensure that the first page of every new chapter always starts on an odd page. Nothing shrieks ‘amateur’ in a print book like wonky formatting.

And finally, there’s the cover. Front page + back page + THE SPINE! Plus ISBNs, pricing, royalty calculations….

I hope you guys are in for the long haul as this could take a while. 🙂




Pod accommodation – in India

I first read about capsule accommodation in the 1970s when the first one opened in Japan. The amenities were pretty basic and that memory informed the creation of ‘short term transit pods’ in Innerscape. But time moves on, and the humble, claustrophobic pod has become high tech, finding takers in some of the world’s largest, and not so large, cities.

If you follow the link below it will take you to an article about the new pod hostel that opened in Mumbai, India. The photos look quite amazing with push button everything:

The article also gives a nod to the ‘Tiny Homes’ movement which I’ve featured before. And just in case you thought this could not happen in your city, think again. Pod hostels have now sprung up in China, Iceland and…ta dah…Australia, amongst others. You can find some interesting titbits in the video clip right at the end of the article.

I’m still not sure if I’d be able to lock myself in and sleep in a pod, but I’d love to try one on for size…just for fun. Then, I’d traipse off to a nice big hotel room and thank my stars I can afford it. 🙂




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