All my appliances are between 10 and 15 years old, so they’ve all started to die. Today it was the turn of the washing machine. Unfortunately, it was full of towels at the time…
I’ll leave all the expletives deleted to your imaginations and plunge straight into the how-to. Firstly, my washing machine is a top loader and has an outlet hose that empties the water into my laundry trough. This means I can move the outlet hose wherever I want.
I could have moved the outlet hose to a bucket, but my back’s bad enough without having to lift heavy buckets of water. Luckily, I happened to have some garden pipe available so I pushed the garden pipe through the dog door and placed the end of the outlet hose inside the much bigger garden pipe:
I raised the garden pipe UP to the outlet hose. I did not lower the outlet hose to the garden pipe.
Believe me, this is vital because as soon as the end of the outlet hose drops below the level of the water in the washing machine, gravity will send that water gushing out. You really, REALLY don’t want the outlet hose to do that. Think soapy water all over the floor. 😦
In fact, the picture shows both pipes resting on top of a glass vase to ensure that none of the water comes back up and out onto the laundry floor. When you think you’ve finished draining the washing machine, life both pipes up together before withdrawing the outlet hose. Oh, and make sure the garden pipe has drained fully before laying it down as well!
Well, I’m going to have to put more water into the machine now, to rinse those damn towels, so I’ll just wish you a better Sunday than mine has been.
I’ve used Excel for a very long time, but I literally just discovered this neat trick so I’m going to share. 🙂
Ok, to start at the beginning, I started an Excel spreadsheet to create a super accurate timeline of the Vokhtah story. To track the number of days of the timeline, I created a column and ‘filled’ it with a sequence of numbers. Most people know how to do this but I’ll cover it nonetheless:
Step 1 Type in two consecutive numbers and then select both together:
Selecting these two consecutive numbers tells Excel the step order – i.e. 1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 1 = 3, 3 + 1 = 4 etc. If you typed in 10 followed by 20, Excel would know the step order was 10 + 10 = 20, 20 + 10 = 30, etc.
Once Excel knows the step order, clicking and holding the small square [as shown below] allows you to drag that step order to as many cells as you wish:
In the screenshot above, I dragged the handle down to the 7th cell, filling all the cells with the correct sequence of numbers.
So far so good? Stay with me. This is where it gets exciting. Being able to fill a series of cells with consecutive numbers was perfect for tracking how many days there were in the timeline, but that didn’t help me work out on which calendar day the journey/story began.
To put this as simply as possible, imagine a task takes you 10 days to complete, and you finish it on the last day of March [which has 31 days]. Now imagine if someone asked you which day of the month you started the task. If it’s only a few days you can easily count backwards, but if it’s more than a few days, you might have to drag out a calendar to work it out.
On Vokhtah, there are no months per se. Instead, there are 4 seasons which have an irregular number of days. Book 1 of Vokhtah takes place during the season of Tohoh, which has 100 days. To find out which calendar day the story began, I needed to do a backwards fill. This is how I did it.
Click in a vacant cell.
Look at the top right corner of the Excel toolbar and click the small arrow next to the ‘Fill’ icon:
This will display a small, drop down menu.
Select the ‘UP’ option from the drop down menu.
Now type the last number of your desired fill sequence in the cell.
Next, type the second last number of your desired fill sequence in the next cell up.
Select both cells.
Click-hold-drag the small square box UP to fill the cells from last to first [or any point in between]:
In the example shown above, I only dragged the small square as far as the number 4. In my real spreadsheet I dragged it from 100:
to Tohoh 42 – i.e. the day of the season on which the journey/story began:
I know a lot of writers out there will be shaking their heads right about now. “Use a spreadsheet? No way!”
To be honest, as a pantster, I would never have thought of using a spreadsheet to work out how the story should progress. But once I started writing books in a series, I had to make sure that info. in the first book married up to info in the second and third books. And that’s where Excel comes in because it allows me to outline in reverse.
So there you have it. Outlining in reverse aided by a backwards fill from Excel. It’s been a good day. 🙂
We’re all aware of the need to be careful when we download something from the internet, but how does ‘being careful’ actually work?
In this short post, I’ll show you how to enjoy the benefits of the internet as safely as possible. The screenshots in this how-to are all taken from Windows 7, so if you’re not running Windows 7 the details may be different, but the core principles will be the same. Onwards!
Do not rely on your Windows firewall etc to keep your computer safe. Buy a good, reputable antivirus software and install it. I alternate between Kaspersky antivirus and BitDefender antivirus, which are both reputed to be the ‘best’ at the moment. From memory, both cost under $50 US for 12 months protection. That price includes both the software itself and the updates that keep it current with information about all the latest viruses. Antivirus without updates is like a car with all four tyres deflated.
Install your antivirus and make sure it can access updates automatically. You may think you’ll do it every day, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions…right?
Once your antivirus software is installed and updated, it will work quietly in the background, keeping your pc safe. BUT! You can also use it to ‘manually’ check every app you download from the internet.
This check should be carried out before you actually ‘run’ the app or install it. How? So glad you asked. 😀
Download the app and save it to a location on your computer. It should look something like this:
Once you download and save the app., use Windows Explorer to find it. My location will look different to yours. Don’t worry, just keep looking until you find the app on your computer.
Once you’ve found the app, right click on the thumbnail [picture] of it. This will open the right click menu as shown below:
Again, my computer will look different to yours, but every version of Windows I have ever used has a right click menu, and on it you will find the name of your antivirus software.
Click the name of your antivirus software and you should see a little sub-menu. On that little sub-menu you will find an option that allows you to scan the app. Click the scan option.
Most reputable apps will only take a short time to scan and the scan will come up as ‘clean’. When it does, you’re ready to use the app. If, however, the scan comes up with an error of some sort – DO NOT USE THE APP!!!! Delete it immediately because you’re better safe than sorry.
If the app is one you’ve paid good money for, contact the publisher and explain that your antivirus has found an error. A good publisher will thank you and send you a ‘clean’ version.
Okay, that’s it. Learn to love your right click menu. It really can save your bacon. 😉
One of the things that distinguishes the iVokh Traders from the normal iVokh is that Traders aren’t afraid of fire. In fact, they light their underground cave system with burning torches. This means the colour of the light is different – yellow flame vs blue glowworm – and the smell is distinctive.
That all came from my imagination, but now I’m writing scenes that require a more factual approach, so how did primitive peoples make torches?
The whole video is fascinating, but the highlight for me was around the 6 minute mark.
So, what are these primitive materials, and would the iVokh have access to them?
The main ingredient in primitive torches [in the Malaysia jungle] is rosin. If any of you have played the violin, you’ll know that rosin is vital for the bow [thanks Dad]:
Rosin is a solid form of resin, the sticky substance that comes from trees that is not unlike sap….Violin rosin is made by heating fresh liquid resin, until it becomes solid. It smells a bit like pine and has a glassy, orange look.
I underlined the bit about the smell of ‘pine’ because that too is a distinctive feature of the Traders’ caves.
But wait…there’s more. I did ballet as a kid and I remember putting rosin on the soles of my ballet shoes – for grip . In fact, as I went from link to link, I discovered that rosin has a million and one uses, even today. Not so primitive after all. 🙂
Anyway, rosin is only one of the ingredients used to make primitive torches; ‘punky wood’ [dried rotten wood] is the other. Crumbled together in a 50/50 ratio, this mixture will burn quite happily for a couple of hours.
In the Junglecraft video, the presenter used bamboo as the locally sourced ‘container’ for the torch, but I’m pretty sure most of the inhabitable parts of Vokhtah are savanah rather than jungle, so I think the iVokh would have used animal horns instead. I haven’t actually created a horned creature per se, but I’m sure there must be a few somewhere in Vokhtah. Maybe down south where where only the Traders have been… 😉
So there you have it, my latest bit of research. I had fun, and I hope you did too.
Before I finish though, I have a small rant to get off my chest: I HATE the new preview function in WordPress. With the old Preview function, I could preview my post in a new tab and can jump back and forth between the two tabs, fixing typos as I find them.
With the new Preview function, I get a floating [sic] pane that can’t be moved. As the ‘edit post’ screen is underneath the preview pane, I have to close the pane each time I find a typo. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit…
Grrrr! Do none of the ‘Happiness Engineers’ ever test run their ‘improvements’? Or do none of the testers bother to fix bloody typos? Ahem… Okay, end rant.
Bad news for WordPress.com users – the progress bar can only be installed by those using WordPress.org. The reason? Only the paid, hosted version allows bloggers to install plugins. And the progress bar is a plugin.
How do I know? This is a screenshot from the download site for the progress bar. It shows what the plugin looks like after it’s installed:
For newer bloggers, that’s the old Admin. Dashboard. With WordPress.com you cannot add anything to the Dashboard menu. Nothing. Zip. Rien. Therefore, the screenshot must be of the WordPress.org dashboard. And that means us Freebloggers can’t use the progress bar. -cries quietly-
While looking for something else entirely, I discovered a WordPress widget called ‘Gallery’. And voila! There it is on the sidebar to the right. The images are a little small, but it’s nice to be able to do something useful with all those faces!
And the gallery provides a nice introduction to the price change for the Innerscape Omnibus. In line with most other bundles on Amazon, I’ve raised the price to $5.99. This price point makes it slightly cheaper than buying each book separately, and it allows me to do ‘specials’ every now and then without having to do an exclusive via KDP.
The instructions mention that you can get this app via the WordPress widgets. That’s not quite right. It is not available on the free, WordPress.com widget page. I assume it will be available to the paid WordPress.org sites. If someone could check that out for me I’d be eternally grateful!
Still on the progress bar, there is a manual way of inserting it into your blog but I haven’t tried it out yet. If I get it to work, I’ll post a mini how-to about it. Alternately, if someone out there gets it to work, please post some instructions, preferably with pictures so we can all start using it!
Ahem, and the reason I want that progress bar is because, as Robert Chazz Chute says:
‘The meters really get me amped and moving. I don’t want to see a static progress bar and measurement gives me a sense of momentum. That which cannot be measured will not be improved.’
Like Robert, I’m all betwixt and between at the moment. Once I sit down and start writing, I’m okay, but getting myself to that point has never been this hard before. I know what’s causing at least part of the problem – that miserable virus – but knowing and ignoring are two very different things. So, I’m hoping a progress bar will give me that little bit of extra incentive to ignore the outside world and escape into Vokhtah again.
Okay, I feel as if I’ve been productive enough. Time for some lunch. Cheers!
The following how-to uses the WordPress interface [as at July, 2020], not the old Admin. Dashboard. When you’re done, you’ll end up with a small, slideshow of images that can be quite effective at catching the eye of casual visitors.
You will need at least one sidebar in your theme – i.e. a visible area next to or below the spot at which your blog posts normally appear. I have two sidebars on my theme and they both appear to the right of the blog post area:
My particular theme also allows me to have a ‘footer’ bar, and this is where I’m going to put my slideshow.
Next, you will need to have images to place in your slideshow. Yes, obvious, I know, but you will need to:
edit the images so they’re all the same size – it looks better,
upload the required images to the WordPress media library before you begin creating the gallery.
Once all the images have been uploaded* to your media library, you’re ready to begin:
If you are in Reader, click the tab for ‘My Sites’ [top left of your WordPress screen],
From the list of available options in My Sites, click ‘Design’,
Design has two further options – Customize and Themes. Click ‘Customize’,
From the Customize options click ‘Widgets’,
You should now see the areas that can take Widgets**
As mentioned earlier, my particular theme has three such areas and they look like this:
Finally, select the area in which you want your gallery [Widget] to appear. For me it was ‘Footer Widget Area’.
You should now see a button for ‘+ Add a Widget’. Click it to be taken to a list of available widgets [listed in alphabetical order]:
Scroll down the list until you reach ‘Gallery’. Select it. You should now see the gallery widget, ready for you to use:
Type a title for your gallery [because you can have more than one], and then click the ‘Add Images’ area as shown above [big red arrow].
You should now see the images in your Media Library. Unfortunately, there is no helpful message to tell you what to do next. A simple ‘Select an image’ would have been so helpful…ahem.
Click the first image you want to include in your gallery. Don’t worry about the order because you can change that later.
On the right of the library of images you will now see a box for adding information about the image you have chosen. Type in the title and…
DO. NOT. CLICK. ‘Add a New Gallery’ ! ! ! This is not how you complete the selection of your first image! ! !
Okay, I’m really going to get grumpy here with the WordPress developers. Not giving any clues as to where bloggers are supposed to go next is just asking for trouble. Most people are not mind readers. Really poor design.
To complete the selection of the first image and go on to select a second image…just click another image. Yes, I know, about as intuitive as a kick to the head.
Continuing clicking images until you have selected all the images you want to place in your slideshow. At this point, mine looked like this:
Down the bottom of the screenshot you can see the six images I chose. The bit on the right shows details for the last image I chose. I added a title for clarity, but you will get a chance to add a caption later. Last but not least, there is the blue ‘Create a new gallery’ button. Now you can click it.
The next screen will be the ‘Edit Gallery’ page. Here you can re-order the sequence of images by dragging and dropping them into the correct position. You can also add captions to each image and change the size of the image [Thumbnail is the default]:
I only added two captions to these images, but I did move the image for The Vintage Egg to the end of the list.
When I was happy with the sequence of images, I clicked the small down arrow next to ‘Type’ to show the available display options [the default is Thumbnail Grid]. Down the bottom of the list is ‘Slideshow’. Click it and then click the blue ‘Insert gallery’ button as shown.
Almost done! You should now be looking at a preview screen. As my gallery is in the footer, I had to scroll all the way to the bottom to see it working:
If the preview doesn’t work as expected, click the ‘Edit Gallery’ button to the left of the preview. If everything does work as expected, click ‘Done’ [to save the gallery].
Finally, click ‘Save Changes’ to save the whole lot.
To exit from the customize area, click either the back button or the ‘X’ button [to the left of Save Changes].
Apologies for making this such a long how-to, but I wanted it to be suitable for even the newest blogger. And some of the interface was down right murky.
Have fun, Meeks
p.s. this post was created using the block editor. To get the * asterisks down the bottom to show as asterisks [instead of automatically beginning a bullet point list], I had to press the spacebar a couple of times. Apparently this ‘told’ the block editor that I wanted to stay in the paragraph block. -rolls eyes-
* Please contact me in Comments if you need help getting to this step.
** Widgets are small ‘apps’ that you can insert into your blog to make it work the way you want it to. Widgets can include anything from images and buttons to galleries and links. Widgets can only be placed in certain areas of your blog. Those areas will depend upon the type of theme you chose when you first created your blog.
That’s what I said to myself at 8am this morning when I turned my desktop computer on, and it promptly turned itself off again.
Actually, if I’m to be completely honest, I said quite a few things, most of which only had four letters, but let’s not get too precious about it. I was panicked, and my second thought was…how on earth would I live without the internet? And my writing? And my music? Oh god…and no ESO?
Then I thought to touch the top of the computer, near where the CPU is located. It was warm. It should not have been warm, not after less than a minute of being switched on.
And this is when the baby geek in me stepped up and said, “Dust.”
Baby Geek was right. There was dust all over the top of the computer. Not surprising really, considering that it sits on the floor, surrounded by small, hairy beasts:
Those two small beasts, plus Harry, another small feline beast, share the office with me, and they all shed. And if that wasn’t enough, my window faces north. When it was open over the summer, it let in a lot of smoke and dust, all of which would have been sucked into the desktop via the fans [internal] designed to keep it cool.
For those who don’t know, the average desktop computer is air cooled. Mine has two large fans located under those grills, which circulate air inside the box. I also have a small fan that sits on top of the CPU [the brain of the computer] and two more that sit on top of the GPU [graphics processing unit or video card]. Those two units are the most critical components of a pc, and if they overheat, the computer will automatically shut down.
I knew all this, but I still wondered, would this be the time when it wasn’t the pc overheating? If it was something more serious, how would I get it fixed?
After fortifying myself with a second cup of coffee, I set up the vacuum cleaner and my paint brushes and got to work. For those who are interested, this is a post I wrote some time ago about how to safely clean the inside of a desktop computer. If any of you are in the same predicament, please read the post carefully. You do NOT want to just stick the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner inside the guts of a pc. That would be a very, very bad idea!
To cut a long story short, I cleaned the computer, and it started up like a dream. Now, it’s purring away as if it had never tried to give me heart failure. Beast…
I hope your start to the day was better than mine. Have fun and stay well. 🙂
To begin, move to the back matter of your document and click the mouse at the point where you want the Table of Figures to appear.
Next, open the References tab and click Insert Table of Figures:
You should now be looking at the Table of Figures dialog box:
As you can see, the default settings are to:
Show page numbers
Right align page numbers
and ‘Caption label: Figure’
If you are happy with these default settings, click the OK button.
Note: if you have created different kinds of captions – for example, one for ‘Figures’ and a second one for ‘Tables’ – clicking the down arrow next to ‘Caption label’ will allow you to choose a different label. In this way you can generate a separate table for each label.
Unlike the Table of Contents, there is no specific command that allows you to delete the Table of Figures.
To delete the whole Table of Figures, you will have to manually select the entire table as if you were selecting a paragraph of text.
Note: simply clicking inside the Table of Figures will not work.
Once you have manually selected the whole table, press the Delete key on the keyboard. The Table of Figures will now be deleted, but the captions underneath the actual images still remain so you can reinstate a Table of Figures at any time.
This is the last of the graphics related how-tos, but the defunct ‘How to Print Non Fiction…’ also contains advanced help on Indexes etc. If anyone would like me to post this information, please let me know in comments.
At their most basic, captions are simply labels that describe the content of an image. As such, you can simply type a label beneath each image and leave it at that, or you can opt to not have captions at all. But if you are going to have captions, I’d strongly recommend using the ‘Insert Caption’ command found on the References tab.
If you use the ‘Insert Caption’ command, Word will automatically label and number each caption for you. Once all the captions have been entered, you have the option of getting Word to generate a Table of Figures like the example shown below:
When images are moved or deleted, Word not only updates the page numbering, it also updates the caption numbering.
Until now, the image and its caption have acted as two, separate objects, but it is possible to ‘lock’ them to each other via the ‘Group’ function. Grouping creates an outer ‘envelope’ around the two objects so they can be moved as one.
To group an image and its caption, first check that the text wrapping of the image is not ‘In Line with Text’.
Note: Grouping is only possible if the text wrapping of the image is not set to ‘In Line with Text’.
The first step is to click the caption. A text box will appear around it.
Next, hold down the Shift key on the keyboard while you click the image.
Now, both the image and the caption will have ‘handles’ around them, but they are not yet grouped:
Next, right click either the image or the caption.
Note: right clicking causes a context sensitive menu to be displayed.
You should now see a menu with ‘Group’ as one of the options:
Click Group to display the Group sub-menu.
Now click Group on the sub-menu. The image and its caption will now remain locked to each other until you ungroup them.
To move a grouped object, click on the image to display the outer frame and handles.
Note: if you click in the caption area, you will select the caption text box as well as the outer frame.
Next, point the mouse at the top of the outer frame until it changes to a black, four-headed arrow [as shown]:
Click-hold-and-drag the group to the required position.
The type of movement available to the grouped object will depend upon the text wrapping chosen for the image before it was grouped. For example, if ‘Square’ was chosen as the original text wrapping, the text will flow around the grouped object in a ‘box’ shape.