Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's not a Bug, it's a Feature

I recently got an iPhone 6 and found it had a bad habit. If I touched (not pressed) the home button multiple times (like, if I were thinking about what I wanted to do next), it would drop the icons down on the display like this:

Which I found very annoying. I was amazed Apple would ship a product with such an obvious bug in it and assumed an iOS update would fix it at any time.

Tuesday there was an iOS update (to 8.1.3) and I thought finally that would fix the problem. But it didn't. And I was still annoyed.  I texted my friend Sare that that update didn't fix this bug. She also has an iPhone 6.

"It's not a fault," she texted back. It was a feature.

So I Googled and sure enough, it's called "Reachability" and it's designed so that you can reach the top row of icons while holding the phone and using your thumb to touch the screen.

So I again Googled how to turn it off. It's easy. Go to Setting>General>Accessibility and scroll to the bottom where it says "Reachability" and turn it off:
And, as you can see, it says to double-tap the home button to "bring the top of the screen into reach." I must of just been accidentally double-tapping the home button.

So I turned it off. And, yay! it doesn't happen anymore.

I really think Apple should have shipped the phones with this feature turned off. Either that or put "Reachability Mode" at the top of the screen when it was activated so users will know it's not a bug, it's a feature.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mental Illness is not a Weakness nor a Character Flaw

Depression, Bipolar, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, ADHD/ADD (and many more I didn't name)

These are not character flaws. They are not "all in your head." These are diseases as real as cancer or diabetes.

No, you can't just think your way out of depression. Slight, situational, depression, yes (to a point). Your girlfriend broke up with you, you're sad.  That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about chronic depression where no mater what happens, you feel sad. I called it the "floating cloud syndrome." No matter what, I had a dark cloud hanging over me.  I could fake being happy for short periods. I could function (I was lucky). But every day I felt very sad. And it was worse in winter.

It's not a character flaw. It's brain chemistry.

"But aren't you dependent on a drug?" they ask when they learn you're on anti-depressants or another drug for your mental illness. "Yes," I say, "just like the diabetic is dependent on insulin, or the person with his cholesterol is dependent on a Lipitor." (In my case, it's three drugs since lithium turned me into a zombie so I take a cocktail of drugs to control my bipolar.)

Do I still get depressed? A bit. Technically I'm type-2 bipolar with dysthymia. This means I'm depressed most of the time, with occasional flashes of mania. Sometimes the mania is fun. Most of the times it's not (I'm an angry manic). Without the meds, the swings were wild: low lows, high highs. Now they are muted. Now they are less common. But I still have depressed days and manic moments. They are just not destructive to my life.

So don't tell a depressed person to "get over it." Don't tell someone with bipolar "it's all in your head." (Well, of course it is, where would it be, my kidneys?) The person with a mental illness wants to be treated like everyone else, with perhaps a bit of consideration for their condition when it flairs up and overwhelms the drugs (it happens).

(Yes, I know ADHD and ADD are controversial and yes, I think kids are way over-diagnosed with this because it's easier for schools to put them on drugs than to deal with a bit of rebellion or rambunctiousness. But the ADD drugs I'm on have done wonders for me. I can concentrate on something a lot better and my brain doesn't take off 60 different directions at once. Meetings use to be hell because my brain would run around everywhere and refuse to stay in the meeting. But I'm an adult and I'm not being drugged for the benefit of overwhelmed educators.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Teresa Edgerton and Cris Pasqueralle

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Teresa Edgerton and Cris Pasqueralle

Teresa Edgerton

I believe I began telling stories as soon as I learned to talk.  More than sixty years later I am still inventing them.


My published work includes eleven fantasy novels, written under her own name and my pseudonym, Madeline Howard, as well as short fiction, reviews, interviews, and articles on writing.  I live with my husband, two adult children, a son-in-law, two grandsons, assorted pets (and more books than you might think would fit in the remaining space) in a house that can only be reached by a perilous path through a forest of rose-bushes.

Teresa's Books:

Goblin Moon (Amazon, Amazon.uk, B&N)

The Queen’s Necklace (Amazon, B&N, Book Depository)

The Hidden Stars The Rune of Unmaking Trilogy Book One (Amazon, Kindle, B&N)

Teresa's Links:


Cris Pasqueralle
Cris Pasqueralle

I am a retired New York City Police officer, born and raised on Long Island whose life long love of reading lead to my desire to become an author.

Cris' Book

Destiny Revealed, book one of The Destiny Trilogy (Amazon, Kobo)

Cris' Links:

Facebook
Twitter

From Today's Show: No signals from exoplanet



Monday, January 19, 2015

The Eight Stages of Freelance Writing

I've been working as a freelance writer for about three years now.  And I 've noticed a pattern to all freelance assignments. I call it the "Eight Stages of Freelance Writing."

Stage One Panic: you get the assignment and your first thought is "how do I do this?" I have to call people I don't know and ask for their time and consideration. I have to make a coherent story out of what they tell me (and there may be more than one). I can't do this!

Stage Two Stress: you can't get a hold of the people you need to talk to. Your deadline is looming (even though it might be two weeks away) but every day you can't get a hold of the people you need to adds more and more stress. "Why don't they answer their phone or return my calls?" (This stage doesn't always happen, sometimes they answer on the first call.)

Stage Three Planning: you've got the appointment made to talk, now you plan your questions and plan how to get to them and plan what time to leave so you get there early (always get there early). This is still stressful but not nearly as stressful as Stage Two.

Stage Four Panic: you've done the interview and you're getting ready to write the story. But how do you turn your pages of scribbled notes into a coherent, interesting to read story? What do you use to "hook" the reader? How do you get this past your editor who knows you're a fraud?

Stage Five Work: you write the story, it takes hours and you flip back and forth through your notes to make sure you include every important or interesting point.  You're too busy now for panic or stress, it's just work, but it's work you love.

Stage Six Confidence: It's done, it's proofread, and it's good (you think). You feel good about your accomplishment.

Stage Seven Panic: you send it in to the editor and don't hear anything back. You think they must have hated it and will never hire you again.

Stage Eight Satisfaction: the editor publishes the story and you get a check. You're happy, satisfied, and looking forward to the next assignment so you can return to Stage One (which you've completely forgotten about, now).

You'll notice there are three panic stages. Yes, I spend a lot of time in panic and stress. But when you see your byline it's so satisfying. And the money helps, too.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Ashley Chappell and Heather Choate


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Ashley Chappell and Heather Choate

Ashley Chappell

Ashley Chappell
Ashley Chappell is the author of the recently released Of War and Taters, an irreverent paranormal romp set in the fictional deep south. She is also the author of the young adult fantasy Dreams of Chaos series (Alice Will, Tilt and A God of Gods) which has been hailed by readers as “Darker and more entertaining than the Heroes of Olympus Series.” The series is set in the sentient god-universe Chaos where a teenage goddess is forced to contend with the destructive habits of her dysfunctional godly elders.

Upcoming releases include: The Hotting, a Dreams of Chaos spinoff adventure for younger readers; and The Editors, a new adult urban fantasy. Other works in progress also include outlining the script for her first comic The Harrows, a gritty adventure in which Hell is a job.

Ms. Chappell currently resides in Huntsville, AL with the love of her life. During her writing time her cats sometimes share her lap with her computer, should they choose to allow the usurpation at all. When not writing, reviewing, or burying her nose in one of her well-worn Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman novels, she can be found sailing with her husband on their boat Dupracity (Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will want to ask her what that means).

Ashley's Books


Ashley's Links


Heather Choate

Heather Choate
Heather Choate was born in Littleton, Colorado.  She now lives in a small town in Southern Colorado on a farm with her husband and five children.  She chases chickens, declares war on the weeds in her garden and enjoys quietly people-watching.  Most of her time is spent daydreaming of worlds and people that don’t actually exist but reflect the beauty and complicity of humanity.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2014 while pregnant with her sixth child, spurring her to write about her passion for health and fitness in addition to her fiction novels.  Writing is her escape from diaper changes and runny noses, but motherhood is the greatest journey and joy of her life.

Heather's Books:

Heather's Links:



From Today's Program: Star Trek Technology

Monday, January 12, 2015

Charlie Hebdo, Sharia Law, and the Right to Be Offensive.

Three gunman killed twelve writers in Paris last Tuesday. The writers, who worked at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, were likely targeted because the magazine had published a cartoon of Mohammad. As the BBC reported:

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

If you're a writer, you have to take notice. This attack is an assault on freedom of speech and your creative liberty. It is an attempt to dissuade anyone from violating Sharia Law's prohibition of making images of Mohammad.

Don't think this could affect you?  U.S. cartoonist Molly Norris of Seattle, Washington, had to go into hiding after suggesting that there be a "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" in response to censorship that itself was in response to death threats over a depiction of Mohammed.

In my novel, Rock Killer, some of the villains are Muslims. While they are more interested in political power than religious purity, if some splinter group of Muslims armed with AK-47s took offense, I might have to go into hiding. (I'm not very worried about this, to be honest.)

As artists and writers, we need to maintain our creative freedom and fight for our right to say what we want without fear of reprisal from terrorists or governments (I'm looking at you, Canada). Of course, what Canada does is not along the lines of what happened in Paris, but it comes from the same mindset of "You offended me, you must pay!"

Do I think you should post a cartoon of Mohammad? No. But you should not let this cow you into worrying about offending anyone with your writing. We can not back down even in the face of this evil.

But more than that, we must maintain our right to offend others. If we cannot offend anyone, we cannot do our craft. Someone, somewhere is likely to be offended by pretty much anything. No one has the right to demand not to be offended no matter if what offends them is a cross on a hill or the existence of hard core pornography.

And, because you never know who might come to power and decide what you write is "too offensive," you don't want government taking action to keep some from being offended (yes, Canada, I mean you). "What, you write about recovery from sexual abuse? That offends me!" And believe me, almost everything you write is likely to offend someone (this blog post might offend a few).

We can not let what happened in Paris stop us from writing what we want. We can not let the government or any organization stop us from writing what we want. Does that mean there will be stuff out there that offends us? Yes. But it is better to suffer that than have someone else decide if what we write is too offensive to be in print or on the web.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Diane E.M. Tegarden and Joe MacKinnon


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Diane E.M. Tegarden and Joe MacKinnon

Diane E.M. Tegarden

Diane E.M. Tegarden
Diane Tegarden, an author of four published books, lives in Pasadena, with her husband and cats.
She’s been a print journalist since 1992, writing on a wide range of subjects including; renewable energy, environmental concerns, holistic health, women’s issues, and Native Spirituality. Her work has been found in: The Pasadena Star News, Security Sales Magazine, The Pasadena Weekly, The Solar Flare, The Feral Forest, Earth Luvyrs Calendar, The Daily Sundial, the West Coast Well Being, Associated Content and Health Breakthroughs.

In April 2004, she self-published her first book, How To Escape a Bad Marriage– A Self Help Divorce Book For Women, which provides step by step instructions on how to achieve financial and emotional independence in preparation for a divorce.  Her company, FireWalker Publications Inc. was formed in 2004 to promote her passionate, original written works, ideas and creations.

Since 2005, she’s written for such online content producers, Yahoo Content and The Examiner.com.
She released her second book, a poetry e-book, Light Through Shuttered Window in December of 2007. The poems are about life, love and the process of creativity. In March 2008 she completed her third book, Anti-Vigilante and The Rips in Time, a science fiction novel set in the distant future, with its hooks deep into renewable energy and the changing face of the planet.

October 2012 found her putting the finishing touches on her second self-help book Budgeting on a Dime: 10 Steps to Financial Independence which will aid many people in learning to live within their means while getting their financial picture in good working order.

Diane's Books:

Anti-Vigilante and the Rips in Time (science fiction)

Light Through Shuttered Window, A Compendium of my Poetry

Budgeting on a Dime - Ten Steps to Financial Independence (self-help)

Diane's Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Joe MacKinnon


Joe MacKinnon
Born in Calgary, Alberta. Ran reckless through Fish Creek Part and lost teeth. Moved to Toronto, Ontario in 2000. Studied English and history at the University of Toronto. Grew a beard. Went back out west to the University of Alberta to earn a masters and study Mandarin. Wrote Faultline 49, Cypulchre, and The Savage Kingdom in quick succession. Currently involved with Pulp Media pictures (i.e. music videos and pulpy shorts), and finishing screenplay for Faultline 49 adaptation.

Joe's Books:

Faultline 49

Cypulchre

The Savage Kingdom

Joe's Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

From today's show: Hybrid neutron star.