Old Time Radio Shows

November 23rd, 2014

Here’s a vast collection of old radio shows from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The collection includes X Minus One, which featured much classic science fiction with stories by Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Murray Leinster, Isaac Asimov, and many others. I remember listening to some of these when I was a child.

Unfortunately you can’t download the shows for offline listening, but they offer three players so you should be able to stream the episodes on most devices. Or you can download them from the Internet Archive site (the link is for X Minus One).

New online SF magazine

November 20th, 2014

There’s a new online science fiction magazine, Terraform, part of Vice’s Motherboard online site. They plan on publishing new short stories each week starting with stories by veterans Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling.  It’s a good start.

William Gibson at NYPL

November 18th, 2014

William Gibson was in town for the Toronto Book Fair this weekend. We didn’t go – instead we went to a couple of readings (Robert J. Sawyer and Peter Watts) at SFContario – the small fan-run convention being much more to our taste. Gibson has been on a tour touting his new novel, The Peripheral, and earlier last week he was at the New York Public Library where he was interviewed by James Gleick. The talk was recorded and is now up on the NYPL web site (in both video and audio formats) for your enjoyment.

When William Gibson visited LIVE last year, he offered an early glimpse of his work-in-progress The Peripheral. Now, the master of science fiction returns to celebrate the novel’s publication, and discuss visions of the future with author and science historian James Gleick, whose works include Chaos: Making a New Science, and The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood.

WILLIAM GIBSON is the is the author of Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome, Virtual Light, Idoru, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History, and Distrust That Particular Flavor. Neuromancer was the first novel to win the three top science fiction prizes—the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award. Gibson is credited with coining the term “cyberspace,” and popularizing the concept of the Internet while it was still largely unknown. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife. His most recent novel, The Peripheral, will be published in October 2014.

JAMES GLEICK is the author of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. His first book, Chaos, was a finalist for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, and a national bestseller. He collaborated with the photographer Eliot Porter on Nature’s Chaos and with developers at Autodesk on Chaos: The Software. His other books include the best-selling biographies, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and Isaac Newton, both shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, as well as Faster and What Just Happened. His books have been translated into twenty-five languages.

Clearing conditionals out of a SmartDocs document

November 17th, 2014

SmartDocs is a powerful Word add-in from ThirtySix Software that gives Word users many of the capabilities of FrameMaker (variables, conditional text, reusable snippets) with an interface that is much easier to use. I’ve been using it for about three years and the more I use it the more I like it. I’ve been using it to produce two different versions of our FIX protocol specification, a 300-page document full of complex tables, and SmartDocs has handled everything I’ve thrown at it with aplomb.

In SmartDocs, deleting a conditional tag removes the tag and its associated content control but leaves the unconditionalized text in the document (this works the same way as FrameMaker). However, there may be times when you want to delete both the conditional tag and everything conditioinalized with that tag from your document, as was the case in revising our FIX protocol specification, when the conditional used for FIX 4.2-specific information was no longer required.

Note that this procedure requires some manual cleanup at the end. It will remove text in a conditional tag and the content control used to conditionalize that text as well as figures that have been conditionalized. It will not remove table rows or tables that are conditionalilzed. You must remove empty table rows or tables after deleting the condition.

Important: This procedure is irreversible and removes structure and content. Work on a copy of your file.

  1. In SmartDocs, turn on the display of only the conditionals you want to keep. All the others should have a visibility of Hidden.
  2. If any of the conditionals you want to delete are synchronized with the repository, disconnect them.
  3. In Word, turn on the display of hidden text. Verify that you can now see text in the conditionals you want to delete.
  4. Run the macro RemoveHiddenText. (Get it here). Note that you will see “Click here to enter text” wherever there is a now empty content control. The next step will remove these.
  5. In SmartDocs, delete any conditionals you no longer want. This will remove their content controls.
  6. Review your document. Remove any blank table rows or tables that were in deleted conditionals.
  7. Update all of the fields in the document, then update the table of contents and lists of figures and tables, if any.

Three clever typefaces

November 14th, 2014

It’s time for another typography post. Gizmodo has an article about three typefaces that are designed to solve specific problems.

I’ve posted about Dyslexie before - it’s designed to help dyslexics read. The other typefaces mentioned in the article are Input, a good looking monospaced font (yes, it is possible) for programmers, and Burlingame, a font designed for extreme legibility and comprehension on roadside signs.

I like all three of them and I like the fact that designers are looking at typography to help solve real-world problems.

Free readings at SFContario this weekend

November 12th, 2014

SFContario 5 will be held in Toronto this weekend. For those of you not familiar with it or science fiction conventions, it’s a small fan-run convention focused mostly on the literary side of science fiction (though there will be filking and probably some costuming). This year, they’ve managed to get some funding from the Toronto Arts Council to put on a series of free authors’ reading during the convention. Readings will be held at Ramada Plaza Hotel, 300 Jarvis Street, in the Courtyard Room.

Among the authors reading are Karl Schroeder, Madeline Asbby, Robert J. Sawyer, and Peter Watts. The full list and schedule is on Sawyer’s Facebook page. I hope to be there Saturday afternoon.