Once again it is time for a new issue of Aphelion. And once again the editorial I had planned has gotten scuttled by events beyond my control. So here is “just Dan, winging it” once again! Let us see what we may see, Shall we?
My editorial for our previous issue was supposed to be about a tabletop gaming company attempting to stretch their limited trademark on a figurine and its name. These had been being used in their games and in a sideline of e-books they had recently begun publishing in order to promote their games. The game company upset a huge number of readers, writers, and even publishers by claiming that they now held legal and worldwide trademark rights over the truly generic sci-fi term “Space Marine.” An indie writer wound up with one of her e-books being pulled from Amazon's inventory. She had no cash to spare for a protracted legal battle with the game company, so she blogged about it. That blog post got read by a fairly large number of people. And those readers also blogged about the situation. Word got out pretty quickly, as one might expect it to do. Since the term “Space Marine” was coined back in the early 1930s, and has been in use as an easily understood trope of science-fiction ever since, the list of people with a interest in this matter contained some Very Big Names indeed. Some of them have since been made aware of the situation and have joined in the discourse. Also, the indie writer, with the help of some of the folks who read of her difficulties, has successfully petitioned Amazon to have her e-book reinstated to the sales lists. Anyone who is interested can google “Space Marine” and quickly find links to the pertinent webpages and blogsites. I would have included them here, but all that data is six to eight weeks old now, I'm using my Netbook to access the Internet at the moment, and I'm just winging it anyway. Which brings me to paragraph three...
“Why is Dan not using his regular desktop computer?” I imagine you readers asking yourselves about now. Short answer: “It's dead, Jim.” The reason that I didn't get to finish my editorial last month is that my computer monitor died while I was writing it. Because I had previously goofed up the settings for the household computer network, none of the computers in the house can presently file-share or print-share. The unfinished editorial had been saved, intact, but was unreachable by any of my back-up computers. It was uploading deadline, I was frustrated, and I didn't want to be the one holding up the upload of the issue. So I e-mailed the Aphelion Staff telling them to go ahead without me. It was several days after the February issue that I was able to borrow a spare monitor from a friend at work. We had a busy next few weeks, Lyn and I. We filed our income tax paperwork, went to AnachroCon, and began n ambitious round of Spring Cleaning about the house. When our tax refund arrived, we paid down various credit card debts, paid monthly bills, and Lyn insisted that I buy a new computer. You see, he old desktop computer had died sometime during last year's Holiday season. I had quickly gone shopping to get her a new one. In about the same time frame, my desktop computer had started showing signs of old age. Frequent, unwanted reboots, the main drive finally becoming full, and various other little problems. Lyn insisted that I go ahead and replace the old workhorse that had been serving duty since the early 2000s. Since I was becoming quite tired of all the spontaneous reboots, I finally agreed. I replaced the dead monitor with a slightly larger flat-screen TV. That way we saved $50 off the price of a monitor, could eliminate a tiny old CRT TV set that we'd had in the office for watching VHS tapes, while at the same time I would gain a serviceable monitor for my desktop computer. With the help of an online friend, I worked up a shopping list of computer parts to rebuild my antique desktop computer. My friend found the best deals, I ordered the parts, and we planned for him to come visit for a weekend to help with the rebuild. The parts arrived Tuesday of last week. My friend arrived Friday afternoon. By Saturday night, we had the computer rebuilt, wired into the system, and discovered that the new power supply and the new motherboard were both defective. My computer was non-functional. It will be tomorrow, Monday, before my friend can call the place where I bought the parts and explain the problem to them. Since this is a highly reputable online dealer that we are working with, my friend hopes that they will not only replace the parts for free, pay for me to ship the defective parts back, but fill in for him by doing a build of the components to ship to me. If he gets his way, I will be shipped a new, tested motherboard, processor, and RAM assembly, and a new power supply. I will have to dismount the defective power supply and motherboard myself. Then I'll have to mount those, wire everything in, and connect the hard drives. Once all that is built and running, I can clone all my old hard drives onto newer, larger drives, delete all the old LAN settings that I buggered up, and create a new household LAN workgroup in my desktop. My friend will be watching the tricky bits through Skype and webcam on this Netbook so he can walk me through the necessary changes to the desktop's BIOS settings. All the rewiring for accessory external hard drives have been redone, streamlined, and generally simplified during the unsuccessful rebuild this weekend. Well over half the work on the household computer network was successful by the time we discovered the dud computer parts. I'm not saying that five screws and twenty wires are all I need to put in place and all will be right with the world. I am saying that a huge amount of the infrastructure of the household system has been successfully redone. What is left to complete should be well within my knowledge -base, in other words.
Now, there is another silver lining to this dark cloud. As part of the general Spring Cleaning, and part of making Casa Vila presentable for my friend Sean to come visit, Lyn and I have sorted through and trashed several truckloads of accumulated junk I had collected since the house fire back in 2007. Lyn's housecleaning workload is now much lighter. We will soon have the spare room ready for her genealogy and sewing projects. I now have ten entire toolboxes full of tools and raw materials for my own projects. There is now room in the house for us to easily reach all but the bottom half of one bookcase. I have a synth on a wheeled stand and some stuff that needs to be sorted into “stuff to put through the shredder” and “stuff to be put in the filing cabinets” in front of that shelf. Things have been rearranged to better utilize our available space. Casa Vila is no longer a place of closed doors and over-cluttered rooms. We will continue to clean, sort, and rid ourselves of my decades of collected junk. Casa Vila will be ready for casual visitors once again. It won't be looking like a college dorm room for much longer.
And no one should be surprised if a future story of mine features a character who is suffering unexpected problems with computer upgrades...
Well, this turned into one of my longer editorials. I must have delayed your enjoyment of all the new stories and poetry by a good ten minutes. Time for me to shut up and let you get to the good stuff!