Thursday, December 31

Happy New Year HNT

I made myself a promise. A promise to write something every day. A commitment that I'll explain later. But it has led to a decision that must be made. A difficult decision. To make a change that I have attempted--and failed at--many times over the past few years.

I've tried to leave this blog before. Each time I've found myself right back here. I've set up new blogs and invited everyone to come with me. I wouldn't even get my blogging bags unpacked at my new digs before I would come running back, leaving confused readers with an annoying case of whiplash. I think I've finally found a compromise. A way to start 2010 at peace with my dichotomous spirit. And with renewed purpose.

"IT was not death, for I stood up,
And all the dead lie down;
Part Four: Time and Eternity LXXV
~~ Emily Dickinson

hnt work

    As per Os' instructions I made a choice of my favorite HNT from this year. Not much to choose from due to my forced hiatus for half of it.

    I selected the Freelance Writing HNT because it was the time that I finally began to feel myself again.

    I'm working the long mid-shift tomorrow so have patience. If I'm not there this morning I will be by to visit in the evening. I have so much to say to so many of you as we usher in this new year. And comments will be answered.

    Until then I love you all.
    Happy New Year.
    Happy HNT.
    You've brought me the joy and confidence I needed to continue on.

    Wednesday, December 30

    Blog Explosion

    blog explosion

      I'm an admin for A free traffic generating community for bloggers. We currently have 106,807 blogs in the directory and we're looking for quality writers to join. This site is for bloggers, not for sellers, not for corporate websites. Just blogs.

      The subject doesn't matter. There about fifty categories, from podcasts and video blogs to anime, gaming, technology, blogging tips, business info and personal diaries. The only requirements are that they are written in English, that they are updated at least monthly and that comments are enabled. All sites are reviewed by (mostly) real human beings and we try to keep up a standard that weeds out junk and spam blogs.

      I review websites for admission into the blog explosion directory. This is a labor of love that I took on as a result of my desire to find well-written blogs. I enjoy reading interesting sites. I'm always fascinated by the eclectic mix of writing and topics that roll through my dashboard.

      Last night I had intended to visit the blogs I follow, but when I popped into Blog Explosion I found a large number of blogs that needed reviewing. I set aside my own visits to make sure that these writers waiting for their acceptance emails were not held off too long. We get hundreds of new blog requests daily. It has added up over the holidays as admin members spent time with their families--as they should.

      The problem I'm increasingly running into is the number of spam and advertising blogs that are being submitted. This is a site that runs as a community. With 'Battle of the Blogs' you can pit your blog against another and members will vote on their favorites, they offer free blogging services and the chance to get to know other bloggers with similar interests. After you log-in you gain visits by visiting blogs in the directory. This increases your traffic as well as helping you find interesting new sites and writers.

      Not to mention all of the useful blogging/technology information you find on Blog Explosion sites like Gadgets Directory or the great photography and biting wit of runswithscissors. The chillingly fascinating chronicles of True Crime journaled at In Cold Blog.

      Anais Nin's Diary has been called 'The Liary' due to the heavy re-writing that Nin did to get it published, and yet it is still a brilliant, creative, erotic piece of lying literature--Much like UnpopularTruths "When my fake editor came to me with the chance to conduct a fake interview with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger – noted pants-around-your-feet enthusiast and unapologetic photo-op horn-thrower – I jumped at it like a chicken on a dough dish." Okay. Maybe not so much erotic, but brilliant and creative definitely.

      And then there's My Kafkaesque Life. It takes a special stroke of creative genius to take a picture of an unpublished post and make it a post. A shy guy. It says all of the things he would never say directly in a post.

      Now that is brilliant.

      One of my dirty little vices~ I could easily blow an entire afternoon reading the book reviews, rants, recipes and plain kvetching of The Library Lady Rants "Yes,I am aware that people can't read simple instructions. Hell, I'm a librarian, who would know better?" As a matter of fact I have blown an entire afternoon reading her. In my pajamas, drinking hot tea. What can I say? Showers are over-rated.

      Last night I wasted hours wading through money-making blogs that offer nothing in their posts except links to on-line stores and advertising disguised as blog posts. I couldn't unleash that feculent bilge on this community of bloggers who have devoted themselves to creating a unique, entertaining and informational presence within the blogosphere. I hit the reject button so many times I chipped a nail. Frggg

      So now I'm turning to you. If you can write and you have a unique style, information to assist bloggers, or just humorous observations on your daily life, please. Please. Add your blog to Blog Explosion. I'd rather chew off my own toes than have to sit through another night of viagra/creatin laced drivel.

        Friday, December 25

        Christmas Humor

        The story of how the angel ended up on top of the Christmas tree.

          When four of Santa's elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

          Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out Heaven knows where.

          More stress.

          Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys. So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hidden the liquor, and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom. Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door, and there was a little Angel with a great big Christmas tree.

          The Angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?"

          And so began the tradition of the Little Angel on top of the Christmas tree.


          Thursday, December 17

          HNT Christmas Tree

            I've been working and writing.
            I've barely had time to get ready for Christmas, which is very unlike me. I'm usually fighting the urge to put up my decorations too early.

            The latest article is up on blogcritics.
            A Photograph of My Father
            But I just got the lights up on the tree.
            I don't even want to think about the holiday shopping I'll have to do this weekend. I'd better get Christmas-y real fast.

            Happy HNT!
            See the man, Os.

            Tuesday, December 15

            Basic Windows Computer Maintenance

              For Great Justice

                When we were little I tried to teach O how to do the Marilyn Monroe 'updraft thingy', but would she listen?
                Yeah. Sure. Right.
                She always had to do things her own way.

                "Look," I said, "you just gotta lean back and let it poof out. Like this. Yes, sucking on a pacifier does help."

                "No. Leaning back like that will just reify the bullshit patriarchical paradigm. It offends my feminist ethos, almost as much as your hat.
                Besides, I don't wanna. My panties will show."
                And then she started crying... as usual.

                She still doesn't listen to me. So I wrote this post for her. Because I'm always having to chastise her for not doing her computer maintenance. But I have news for her, this time--I'm not wearing any panties.

                So, for the sake of O, let the wind blow up your skirt, throw your undies in the air, and lets pwn IT like a geek girl should.

                All your Intertubes are belong to us.
                You have no chance.
                Make your time.

                Windows Computer Maintenance
                We'll start with cleaning up all of the temp files using Disk Cleanup then we'll speed up your computer using the Disk Defragmentation utility.

                * Always do the disk cleanup before you defragment. There's no point in wasting a lot of time defragmenting files that need to be deleted anyway.

                **If you download and use CCleaner then you can save yourself the time of running Disk Cleanup and just scroll down to the section on Disk Defragmentation.

                DISK CLEANUP

                Click Start
                Slide the mouse over each of these to open a new menu.
                All Programs
                System Tools

                First you want to run the Disk Cleanup.

                *This is the same thing you do to get to the defragmenter*

                Click on Disk Cleanup.
                It will open immediately and hunt down all of the garbage that is stored on the computer.

                It's safe to delete them all, they're just temporary files, but if you're worried about it you can unclick the box next to anything you aren't sure about.

                It won't delete any files that you need to run your computer though. Just duplicates of files and basically garbage. Like if you open a Word document and edit it- you hit save to keep the document with all of its changes, but there is still a copy of the old page left on the hard drive. It just goes to a folder to wait for the cleaner to dump it. You can also click on compress files.

                It'll compress old files that you haven't used in a long time, but you can still open them if you need them.

                When you've done that you want to use the steps above to get to the Disk Defragmenter. It's just below the Disk Clean Up on the system tools menu.
                Click on that and the defragmenter will open.

                Click on Defragment. It will first analyze- the top window. And underneath it shows the progress of the defragment.

                All red files are fragmented. It will move all of the files around in the bottom window and when a file is defragmented it will turn from red to blue.

                You needn't do anything, just let it run, it will take a while if your files are really badly fragmented.

                When it's done you'll get a box that says Defragment is complete. Just click close, unless you want to view the report first. But you can pretty much judge how much was done by comparing the top window (pre-defragment) and the bottom window (defragmented)

                For detailed instructions on Windows Repair see these posts:
                Use System Restore to Repair Windows XP
                Repair Windows using System File Checker SFC

                The next Geek Girl post will be on the best free virus and spyware removal programs.

                  Thursday, December 10

                  HNT ascii drawing

                    A reader made an ascii drawing from my profile picture.

                    ascii drawing

                      Pretty cool, right?
                      Click to enlarge.

                      Have a geeky HNT!

                      See the man, OS!

                      Currently Reading ~~ Salt Dancers by Ursula Hegi
                      When she was young her mother disappeared without a trace. Now grown, Julia has returned home. Pregnant, still haunted by her father's abuse and her brother's betrayal, she seeks to reconcile her long buried anger and find peace with her past.

                        Friday, December 4

                        Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid

                          There is something diabolical and sinister lurking in the halls and secret labs of Ellsford University. Secrets that must be kept at any cost.
                          ~~ A Geek Girl Book Review ~~

                          Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid

                          Ellsford University holds many secrets within its austere walls. Macabre murder, suicidal students and one radio journalist who threatens to bring down the institution, if her own dark secrets don't destroy her first.

                          A good mystery is a work of art. By its very nature it must be. Plots, subplots, characters. All must be interwoven just so to draw the reader in. Any failure on one front will cause the entire work to unravel, leaving the reader feeling disappointed, cheated. If the writer is too elaborate the work will not flow naturally, leaving the reader feeling overwhelmed and confused.

                          Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid finds that perfect balance, engaging the reader, yet taking the time to build upon itself. It draws you in, but leaves just enough distance to allow for objectivity. An omniscient viewpoint that gives the book a web like feeling as the reader becomes aware of events happening on campus and the characters are left to play catch up. The layers create an intricate groundwork that adds to the anticipation and makes the novel a fast read.

                          From the opening pages Dead Air begins to weave its magic with an elegant prose that wraps its fingers around your mind, refusing to let go. You find yourself compelled by the writer's language, no matter how macabre the subject matter.

                          The first campus death is a suicide, a young man who decides to take a high dive off a low clock tower, but it's the writing that strikes you. Not a grisly death scene, a tantalizing tease that leaves you hungry for more.

                          "He'd been sitting there, feet dangling over the precipice of the university clock tower for nearly twenty minutes, not clear how he got there or why. But then he hadn't been certain of much since—since when? He wasn't sure. He couldn't seem to remember anything except the recurrent nightmares. Tormenting him. Invading his thoughts. He'd hardly slept at all in two weeks."

                          I had a feeling of anticipation as I began reading Dead Air. The information I had received beforehand was fascinating. A dead Professor, disappearing students, a student radio journalist whose own dark past threatens to destroy her as she delves deeper into her investigation.

                          That information was actually a bit deceiving. There's so much more to this book than the expurgated synopsis let on. The authors both have backgrounds as university medical directors and researchers, that should have been my first clue that this was not going to be your run-of-the-mill murder mystery. I haven't been this rocked by a book since reading Coma by Robin Cook.

                          Sammy Greene is a red-headed spitfire, a Junior at Ellsford University, and a native New Yorker who's turning the University and the little town of St. Charlesbury on its ear with her popular, controversial radio talk show called The Hot Line. This seems to make her a threat to the establishment and a magnet for the religious nutjobs who have made the University and its medical experiments the focal point of their protests. When Sammy sets out to do an expose called 'The Death of Education', examining the supposed suicide of a prominent Professor, she finds more questions than answers. It seems that Ellsford has a problem with suicide. Suicide amongst the staff and the student body. And it's a problem that's growing. As the bodies start to pile up the University wheels begin to turn in the direction of self preservation.

                          And Sammy has secrets of her own. On the outside she's a tough kid with a thick skin who doesn't back down from a challenge, but there is an underlying fragility that threatens to break her. She can't escape her past or the voices in her own head that have been re-awakened by her research.

                          At times it's difficult to distinguish between the roles of protagonist and antagonist. For instance, the powerful, evangelical figurehead who holds sway over the town and many of the University students. His unfocused vitriol leaves one wondering exactly whom the target really is. However, even this seems to work in the authors' favor. Another loose cannon whose next move is unpredictable. Can he become a trusted ally or is he simply another dark cog in Ellsford's murderous machinery?

                          There are several foreshadowing events that occur early on, but you shouldn't get too comfortable thinking that you have it all figured out. You'll find that this story weaves in and out and it will shake up anyone going in with preconceived notions. The tension builds as Sammy realizes the magnitude of skeletons in Ellsford's closets. Students begin to disappear and Sammy soon finds herself in a race for her life. As her situation becomes more desperate she struggles to discern friend from foe in a world full of deception and danger.

                          The authors call this 'A Sammy Greene Thriller' leaving the impression that there are more to come in a series. I hope so. They've done for academia what Patricia Cornwell did for forensic science.

                          This is a great book for anyone who enjoys reading thrillers and mysteries. The release date is set for December 7th but I'd definitely recommend pre-ordering a copy for anyone who has an avid reader on their holiday shopping list. This book is sure to be in high demand this season.

                          Book Review: Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid was originally published on Blogcritics on Nov. 23, 2009.