Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo on Displaced Persons

July 30th, 2014

Next week, Displaced Persons, a graphic novel by Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo hits the comic stores, with general release later in the month. I mentioned earlier in the month that you could look at a preview of book online. Now you can read a long interview with the author (Derek) and artist (Anthony).

I’m really excited that this book is finally coming out. I was an advance reader for it years ago (I questioned Derek about the AutoMat mentioned in the interview), and I have been chomping at the bit to see the finished product. It’s a wonderful story – complex, vivid, and engaging, and I think it’s going to get Derek and Anthony a lot of notice.

McCulloch: What’s really funny about that chapter, is when I started working on this book, 1999 was the near future. When I first figured out the structure of it in my head, and when I finally got around to writing the script in 2007, 1999 was as much a period piece as the other two parts in the sense that I had to take some care in putting period markers in it.

I mean, there were things in the 1930s chapter that I was just really excited to put in that don’t make any difference at all to the story or anything but are really great background elements. I’ve always loved the concept of the Automat restaurant. Preston Struges’s Easy Living had a scene set in an Automat, and I got Rantz a copy of that film and he just loved it too. He loved all the design, and it was great how in these restaurants you would go and open up these little plastic doors and take out fully cooked meals in crockery. It seems today like a very elegant fast food.

I don’t even know if Automats existed on the West Coast, actually. They always seemed like a very East Coast thing. I tried getting some specific information about whether there were any on the West Coast or in the Bay Area, and I couldn’t get confirmation, so I just thought, oh what the hell, in my story there are, there was at least one automat in San Francisco, because I put it there. In the ’60s, the 1969 chapter, one thing I was really adamant to have was a 45 center.

MIF2GO now free, open source

July 28th, 2014

MIF2GO, the fine FrameMaker plug-in to cnvert FrameMaker to Word, is now free and open source following the death of OmniSys founder Jeremy Griffiths. This was posted on several mailing lists today by Carolyn Stallard:

FrameMaker plug-in Mif2Go is available for download, at no charge:
http://mif2go.com

Join the new Mif2Go list:
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/mif2go

DITA2Go is available for download:
http://dita2go.com

Join the new DITA2Go list:
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/dita2go

uDoc2Go has not yet been released; read about uDoc and this new processor:
http://udoc2go.com

Join the new uDoc2Go list:
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/udoc2go

Omni Systems is closed. As Jeremy Griffith wished, source code will be made available for all three software tools. Scott Prentice has very kindly agreed to set up projects for this purpose on SourceForge. Scott has already set up a list as a gathering place for people interested in helping with maintenance and development, so we can communicate in preparation for the move to SourceForge.
For example, we might discuss whether to use SVN or GIT. If you wish to help, please join:

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/omsys-dev

Jeremy has done the technical communications community a great service by making these products open source.

SpaceX Falcon 9 ocean landing video

July 23rd, 2014

Here’s video of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing in the ocean after the last launch. Good video this time, but they need wipers for the camera lens. I can’t wait to see them bring one back to the Cape.

One small step

July 20th, 2014

July 20, 1969.

Armstrong

Free ebooks from Scriptorium

July 17th, 2014

As well as offering various content strategy services, Scriptorium Publishing have been publishing a series of books about aspects of technical communication. Several of these are now available as free ebooks in EPUB format. You can download copies of Technical Writing 101, DITA Style Guide and a couple of others. Print versions are available for some of the editions through Amazon and other vendors.

Kudos to Scriptorium for making these available for free.

Been there, done that

July 15th, 2014

In Why I hate negotiating my telecom package, Rob Carrick describes the annual ordeal of trying to shave a few dollars off his cable bill by spending hours online with a cable company customer retention representative. Honestly, I could have written that article – it’s uncanny how his experiences mirror mine.

If you enjoy buying new cars and setting up mortgages at the bank, then you’ll love negotiating your cable, Internet or smartphone package. Me, I dislike the tedious back and forth, the posturing over what can and can’t be offered and the obvious agenda of trying to get you to bundle all your business with one company, thereby cutting off all future negotiating leverage. Most of all, I dislike the mystery about whether I’m getting a good deal or not.

Cable TV, Internet and cellphones can easily cost a family of four between $200 and $400 per month. That’s enough to vie with property taxes as the second-largest household expense after mortgage payments. Any opportunity to cut telecom spending must be explored.