Switching to a Standing Desk

Last week I decided to try a standing desk.  I had been sitting behind my computer for the last 6 days, about 10 to 11 hours per day.  My back hurt, my posture was horrific, and I was just feeling horrible.

A friend of mine had switched his work desk to a standing one quite a while back, so I started doing some research.  After a few days I decided it was time to give it a shot.

I decided to go cheap to start.  I mean, who knew, I may have hated it.  Searching the web brought me to a number of pages showing a cheap Ikea standing desk make of a Lack side table, a couple of Ekby shelf brackets, and a wooden shelf.  I have a two monitor setup on my desk, each monitor is 27″.  As luck would have it, we had 2 Lack side tables in the living room.  I stole them (with permission from the wife) and made room on my desk.  The Lack tables are the perfect height for monitors.  The top 1/3 of the monitor is at my eye level (I’m 5’10″).  I didn’t want to spend any money yet, so I stacked books in front of the side tables and place a board across them for my keyboard.  It was wobbly, and collapsed a couple of times during my week test, but it worked.  I had some interlocking foam mats lying around as well, and I put those on the floor so I could have something soft to stand on.

IMG_1082

My first full day at the standing desk was Monday.  I started at 5:45 AM and ended my day at 16:45.  Pretty much a regular amount of time at the keyboard.

It was heinous.

Even though I spent 50 to 60% of the day sitting, I was in pain.  My calves hurt.  My feet hurt.  My back hurt.  My neck hurt.  My shoulders hurt. My…  You’re getting the picture, right?

Later that evening, most of the pain was gone, except for my lower back.  I almost gave up.  But I had told myself I’d go a week and see how things were.  So I soldiered on.

Tuesday started out about the same.  Looking at my notes, I see this line:

6:48 AM - This may not be a good idea.

I had all the pains of the previous day, with a new one.  My heels hurt.  That’s right, my heels.  Really really badly.  I struggled through, still reverting to sitting for 50 to 60% of my workday.

By the end of Tuesday, I was feeling better.  Except for my damn heels.  My neck and shoulder pain had gone.  My calves felt okay.  My lower back was still bad.  And did I mention my heels?

Wednesday rolled around, and I found myself looking forward to walking into my office and starting work.  No need to pull up the chair and settle in.  Just walk in, stand at the keyboard, and go.  The feeling didn’t last.  I went to make a mid-morning coffee, and as I was walking back to the office I started thinking about settling in and getting to work.  Of course, there was no place to settle in to.  Standing desk.  Oh yeah.

By noon I was hopping from foot to foot.  My heels didn’t just hurt anymore, they were on fire.  I looked down at my feet, nice and cozy in a pair of socks, and thought maybe I should try shoes.  I put them on, stood at the desk, and smiled.  The heel pain was substantially less.  My best guess is the arch support the shoes provided helped.

I made it to the end of Wednesday.  My heels still hurt, as well as my lower back.  But it was tolerable.

Thursday was better.  The shoes truly help.  By the end of the day, I still had heel and lower back pain, but again, it was tolerable.  I was finding that I looked for any excuse to leave the desk though… Get a coffee, just wander.  Whatever.  My productivity was down.  In hindsight, that may have been because I was doing taxes.

So now it’s Friday.  I still hurt, but it gets better everyday.  I find I sit when someone comes into my office, on a bar stool so I don’t sink right down.  My heels still hurt, and my lower back.  But it ain’t bad.  I stand about 80% of my workday, and sit or walk around the rest.  I’m almost never standing still, unless I’m really neck deep in typing.  I’m usually bouncing from foot to foot, taking a step backward and then forward again.  They say having a small foot rest helps.  I’ll try that next week.

Did I just say that?  Next week?  I must be mad as a hatter (to be cliché).

KeyCon 2013 Schedule

The following is my fixed schedule for KeyCon:
(updated for Dealers Room Schedule)

Blue Pencil Sessions

Saturday May 18  1:00 PM to 4:00 PM  Executive Boardroom on 13

I’ll be monitoring the Blue Pencil sessions, keeping track of time and making sure the next person is ready for their session.  This might not be the best place to talk to me, but you never know.

In a Minute

Saturday May 18  5:00 PM to 6:00 PM Ambassador B on 11

A game show where participants have 1 minute to discuss a topic given to them by the moderator, without hesitation, deviation, or repetition.  I’ll be the time keeper for this panel

Paperback Writer

Sunday May 19  1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Ambassador G on 12

Try your hand at writing the first line of a novel after seeing the cover and hearing the summary. The best first line wins the novel!  I first did this at SFContario last year, and it turned out to be enormous fun.  Participants can remain anonymous if they prefer.

 

Bundoran Press Table

Dealers Room

I’ll be in and out of here during the entire convention.  

Saturday May 18 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Sunday May 19 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

I’ll be manning the table.

 

If you see me wandering around the con and want to say hello, please do so!

 

WordTsar Update 2

UPDATE:  GO HERE

 

Previous Posts here and here

An update has been a LONG time coming.

I’ve been using WordTsar in all of my work for the last year.  It hasn’t lost data, and it hasn’t crashed.  It’s also not complete, and has a couple of bugs.  It does exactly what I need to get my work done, and when I need something else, I code it.  And although that method works for me, it doesn’t work for getting something out the door.

So here is what I plan to do.  I’ll finish the next feature set and make an Alpha Release available to a limited number of registered testers.  The release will be for Windows, Linux, and OSX (see below).  It’s called Alpha because it is not feature complete, and it’s only been tested by one person.  What I’m looking for from my testers, is continual feedback and feature requests.  I’ll try to get a voting system in place to rank the features, and work on them in order.  Features will be limited to items that are available in Wordstar 7.0d only.  Once WordTsar gets a bit more feature complete, I’ll allow feature requests for items not in Wordstar.

I’m looking for active testers, people that want to use WordTsar and make it better.  If you just want to play to see what it’s like, please don’t register as a tester at this time… there will be an opportunity later on in WordTsars development cycle.

To register as a tester, send an email to register@wordtsar.ca with the following items:

  1. First and Last Name
  2. EMail Address
  3. Why you want to test
  4. What you bring to the table as a tester (Wordstar experience, nostalgia, etc)
  5. Operating Systems you’d like to test on.

You’ll receive an email in return specifying whether you have been accepted as a tester or not.  At this point, I don’t see anyone being turned down, but you never know.  Your email address will be added to a distribution list I can use to send announcements.

For my part in this tester/developer relationship, I’ll do my best to get new releases out on a regular basis, and get a working Wordstar clone out the door for you.

Let me state again, WordTsar is not feature complete.  It has a fair amount of the command keys, below are screen  shots of the control menus.  Anything in italics is not done.

blockandsavemenu editmenu onscreenformatmenu printcontrolsmenu quickmenu

For DOT commands, the following are implemented: .ls, .lm, .rm, .mt, .mb, .oj*. , .pa Any other dot commands can be entered, of course, but are not acted upon.  Bringing the file into Wordstar will work.

Styles are not implemented.  They are very high on my todo list though.

Printing is not implemented.

Spell check is implemented under Linux only.

Very basic RTF import and export are implemented.  Import sometimes has issues.

So, as you can see, very basic indeed.  Essentially, I haven’t worked on WordTsar in a year, since as I said, it does what I want/need.

 

A Word on Fonts

Wordstar fonts are whacked.  Wordstar knows a little over 200 fonts.  The fonts are only available based on the printer you have.  Modern computers have laser or inkjet printers capable of many fonts.  Mapping fonts between Wordstar and WordTsar is a pain.  In order to facilitate font mappings, this is what WordTsar currently does.

  1. Try to map the Wordstar fontname to a system font name, using a Levenshtein distance algorithm.  
    1. If a good match is found, that font is used for the display.
    2. If no match is found, use a system selected font based on the font characteristics
  2. When a Wordstar file is loaded, the selected font is remembered, so when the file is saved, the same font is put back.
  3. When you select a font in WordTsar
    1. The font displays as selected.
    2. When the file is save, the fonts characteristics are saved in the Wordstar file, and Wordstar can select a matching font.
    3. When the file is loaded, it’s possible for the system to select a different font, based on font characteristics.

 

Basically, font handling sucks.  That being said, Wordstar 7.0d handles its file format elegantly.  I can create a new ‘sequence’ that properly stores WordTsar fonts, and have WordTsar read them back.  Wordstar will ignore the sequence when the file is loaded.  I’m not sure what it does on file save yet.  In order for WordTsar to be able to handle modern font selection properly, the Wordstar file format needs to be changed, but it can be done in a backwards compatible format.

1 –  All three versions are at the same feature level, except for the following:
OSX: Slow screen updates and somewhat flakey cursor (carat).
OSX and Windows: No spell check.

2 – All test software will be binaries, no install files, and some possible hand creation of files.  It should be straight forward, but don’t expect anything fancy yet.

Website Moved

The website has been moved to a new server.  The only data lost was from the forum (Which was the reason for the move), and there wasn’t much there anyway.

We’ve installed new forum software, and we’ll see how it goes.

Where Do You Write?

Everyone has a favorite place to write. It might be in a crowded and noisy coffee shop, a quiet corner in the library, or a special spot in your home, or maybe a sandy beach with palm trees swaying gently in the wind. It is where we feel comfortable, where the juices flow, where the Muse sits on our shoulder and whispers in our ear.

It’s also the place where the Muse spits into our brains before abandoning us, where our fingers sit unmoving on the keyboard, and where our lives feel empty and lonely. This is where we work. We put our butts into the chair, and pour ourselves on to the page.

One of the things that differentiates working places is noise level. Do you prefer silence, or does the background hubbub of a coffee shop get you into the zone?

I’m lucky enough to have an office in my home. I can close the door, shut out the world, and get the job done. But I also move around. I can sit on the couch with the TV on in the background or on my back patio in the summer. When we had renovations done on our house, I sat in my cars back seat with the laptop resting on my knees.

This is what my office looks like. Is it always this messy? Yeah, pretty much.  Sorry for the poor quality.

Gerald's Office

What if you are not lucky enough to have an office, what can you do to get your writing space? Here are some ideas for you.

  1. Take over a corner of your home. Put in a small desk and a chair, and you are set. If you have other people around, make sure they know if you are in your corner, you are working. Interruptions only in case of emergency.
  2. If it helps, get a small room divider and put that up. Separating your work space from your living space can increase productivity.
  3. Convert a closet into a desk area. If you have the extra closet, you can build a desk in the closet and have a work space you can close the door on.
  4. Find a coffee shop that doesn’t mind you hanging around for a couple of hours. You’ll get people moving and talking all around you, so be sure you can deal with it. Find a table in the corner and set yourself up. There are some etiquette points to remember. Make sure you have a coffee or two, and maybe a small something to eat. In other words, pay your rent. If the place gets busy, be prepared to give up or share your spot. If you have been taking up space for a few hours and nursed that coffee, give the table up to paying customers.
  5. The library is a great place. Everyone is a bit quieter in there, and it is pretty easy to find a corner to get the job done. The beautiful vanilla scent of old books fills the air, providing you with the rich history of published authors. It may help the Muse stick around.

The reality is that writing is a job. It’s a business that needs you to work. If you rely on that special place to get your writing done, you may be doing it wrong. If you want to get the story written, you need to write wherever and whenever you can, like a soldier that learns to sleep no matter where he or she is.

Are you in an airplane? There’s a couple of quiet hours. A passenger in a car? Every 20 minutes counts. Your job is to write. Having a nice place to do it a bonus, but not a necessity.

Here are some images for you to look at: http://www.whereiwrite.org/bova.php

What is your writing space like?

An unexpected loss

My brother-in-law and his lovely wife lost part of their family today.  Abby passed away this morning in the arms of the ones that loved her.

Abby and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but her loss has touched me in places I didn’t expect.

We’ll miss her.

 

Finalized Cover For Blood & Water

This is the final cover for Blood & Water:

Calgary Launch Dates

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Sentry Box, Calgary, AB.
7:00pm – 9:00pm, Free event, all ages.
Virgina O’Dine from Bundoran Press and Hayden Trenholm will be there, plus a number of local and out-of-town authors. Goodies, verrry short readings, general shenanigans.

 

Friday, August 10, 2012
When Words Collide Literary Convention
A convention membership necessary.
9:00pm until interrupted by angry hotel staff.

 

I will be present at the convention launch, but unfortunately not at the Sentry Box one.

Tentative Cover for Blood & Water

Bundoran Press, the publisher for the Blood & Water anthology, has released a tentative cover.

Guest Blog – J. E. Taylor

 

J.E. Taylor is beginning to wind down her month long Blog tour.  You can find the rest of her tour here.  I’m happy to help her promote her latest offering here, and be sure to check out the rest of her tour.   You can see her previous Guest Blog posting here.  - Gerald

Gerald was kind enough to let me pirate his blog today for a stop in my Crystal Illusions blog tour. I’ve been a lot of places on the web this month and have had quite a fun time with all the folks that have swung in at each blog.

Did you know Gerald has a manuscript that, in my humble opinion, should be available for readers to enjoy? Well he does and I’ve had the pleasure to read and comment on this. I know he’s probably shushing me as we speak, but this is one of the reasons why I blazed my own trail and built my own publishing company (www.novelconceptpublishing.com).

Fantastic stories like his should not line a drawer or a hard drive. They should be available for readers to enjoy.

I know quite a few folks who are making a run for it in the traditional publishing realm and I can’t fault them, because for those lucky enough to garnish the top shelves in the traditional publishing echelon, they get the marketing clout of the big six. But most authors fall into the mid-list or below and they struggle in this scenario. While they may have a big name label – they still have to do the majority of the legwork to market their books.

Independent publishers offer a good compromise to the big six and some even offer those coveted advances, however, most can’t afford to pay an advance, or if they do, it is minimal. They do, however, offer a bigger cut of the royalties, which is appealing, especially when the contract includes cover art, editing and formatting. If you’re looking at small presses – just beware of the ones that charge for these services – they are just a guise for vanity publishing.

I believe you as the author shouldn’t have to pay for editing, formatting or cover art and the publishing house should at least do a cursory request for reviews. However, like mid-list traditional publishing authors, you will have to take an active role in marketing the book. Your job is not done once the book hits the proverbial shelves. It isn’t like Field Of Dreams where if you build it they will come – that’s a farce and to be a success at anything requires a great deal of work.

So now that you’ve read my ramblings on the publishing industry, where do you fall in the traditional versus indie game?

Thanks for checking in and if you’re in the market for a good mystery – take a look at my latest book, Crystal Illusions.

http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Illusions-Steve-Williams-ebook/dp/B007JBWCIQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331505187&sr=8-1

Assistant D.A. Carolyn Hastings has an uncanny knack for putting away criminals. With one of the best prosecution records in recent history, her future as Manhattan’s next District Attorney looks certain. But her sixth sense for winning cases threatens to work against her when she starts seeing a string of murders through the eyes of the killer.

With suspects piling up as fast as bodies, and the motives of those closest to her questionable, Carolyn doesn’t know who to trust. When the FBI assigns Special Agent Steve Williams to the case, Carolyn discloses her deepest fear – that the man she loves may be the one responsible for the city’s latest crime spree.

The only thing Steve knows for sure is Carolyn has an inexplicable psychic connection with the killer, and all the victims have one thing in common…a striking resemblance to Carolyn Hastings.

And he knows it’s only a matter of time before this psychopath knocks on her door.

Praise for CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS

Taylor has a strong thriller where every single character has reasonable doubt flashing like a neon sign hanging over them, and right from the beginning you are trying to guess who the killer really is. Gripping, rich and magnificent – crime whodunnits don’t get any better than this!Author Poppet / Gemma Rice – Author of Quislings, Blindsided, Djinn and Dusan

 

Until next time,

Ciao.

JET

 

 

Blood and Water TOC

The Table of Contents for Blood and Water has been posted.  It’s an honor to be included in such good company.

Drowntown by Camille Alexa
Bubbles and Boxes by Julie Czerneda
Phoebastria by Jennifer Rahn
Hard Water by Christine Cornell
Rabbit Season by Fiona Moore
Not a Drop to Drink by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime
Scrabbling By Isabella Hodson
Bad Blood by Agnes Cadieux
We Take Care of Our Own by Kate Heartfield
The Parable of the Clown by Derek Künsken
Blue Train by Derryl Murphy
The Cow’s in the Meadow, the Blood’s in the Corn by Margaret Curelas
Rash of Flowers by Ryan McFadden
This is the Ice Age by Claude Lalumière
Storm by Gerald Brandt
Little Canada by Kevin Cockle
Spirit Dance by Doug Smith
The Great Divide by Brent Nichols
Digging Deeper by Susan Forest
Watching the Human Garden  by Jean-Louis Trudel

 

Blood and Water will gather the stories of the new resource wars that will mark the next fifty years – stories of conflict and cooperation, of hope and despair – all told from a uniquely Canadian perspective. Conflicts with America over Canada’s resources, Canadian solutions to global problems or personal narratives of coping with change and conflict inspire the stories. (paraphrased from submission guidelines)