The Difficulties of Standing Up

You'd think it'd be a pretty simple thing to stand up, especially when you have full use of both legs. I certainly didn't expect a whole lot of trouble to come from it, until I started this whole standing desk experiment.

Wow, am I ever used to sitting.

The problem is, I think I'm TOO used to sitting. It's killing me. I can feel it happen, bit by bit, piece by piece. My back has been getting worse, my health is getting worse. It was getting unbearable. So I had to start standing.

I rearranged my desk into a sort of ad-hoc standing arrangement. I've got a desk with telescoping legs, which helps, but it doesn't go quite high enough to make for a decent standing solution. I'm not the tallest guy in the world, but I'm too tall for that. So I have my displays and keyboard/mouse raised up higher on platforms that sit on the desk. It's not really pretty, but it works pretty well.

It worked pretty well that first time for about two hours before I turned in and went to sleep.

The next morning I could barely stand up, thanks to the incredible aggravation standing for that long caused my back; I have a pre-existing back condition that it triggered in force. It didn't really help that I have my office set up in a space that's concrete covered with relatively thin carpet.

I won't go deep into the tale of woe and agony, but many painkillers were taken, much more standing was done, much more retreating to chairs was done, and in the end, a comfort floor mat was purchased before the problem was really solved. I'm finally at the point where I can write pretty comfortably while standing most of the time.

My back is still SLIGHTLY sore, though improving daily. I think the overall benefits of standing upright over sitting have already won out, and started improving my health in many small ways; I feel a lot stronger, for starters, and I don't get winded easily. I couldn't have said that a couple of months ago.

I've been working on getting back into the writing groove for several days now, with limited success. Tonight I finally posted some new fiction. I expect this to continue. It feels good to be back on the productive side, and to be standing doing it.

Silence

Just needed to post a note here to let you all know that my silence is two parts ongoing adjustment to standing desks, one part "invisible" behind-the-scenes writing on this latest story. Back story, planning, notes, free-writing, etc.

Catching Up on Gaming: Dead Island

 Yeah, I know, it's buggy, but there  is  fun to be had.

Yeah, I know, it's buggy, but there is fun to be had.

Dead Island is a game I'd been curious about for a while, but I'd been put off by the fact that it is highly melee-centric. There ARE firearms in the game, but they're supposed to be extremely difficult to locate, and getting ammunition for them is even tougher. Normally when I play a game, especially any sort of survival and/or horror game, I like to keep my distance and fight from range. I'd avoided Dead Island as a result.

I picked it up on sale at Origin, and so far I'm finding it to be a fairly mixed experience. My initial impression was soured by terrible control glitches. I have a multi-monitor setup, and I found when trying to play with the mouse and keyboard that it wasn't locking the mouse input correctly; I would end up with two mouse cursors, one of which would often stray onto my other monitor with other programs running, and when I tried to click things in-game, I'd end up taking focus away from the game. Frustrating, to say the least.

I haven't resolved that issue yet, unfortunately. I can play it, but to do so I have to use an Xbox 360 controller. Not ideal, but it does work pretty well. It seems to be a good one to jump into when I just feel like a little gaming, maybe a quick 10-15 minute session.

I'm too early in to have a handle on the actual plot of the game, but here's what I know so far. You have a choice of characters to play, each with a different speciality; blunt weapons, sharp weapons, firearms, etc. I went with the distressed-looking lady pictured above, Xian Mei, the sharp weapon specialist/assassin. Each character has a bit of a backstory that brings them to the island, when everything starts going terribly wrong and everyone starts eating each other.

Naturally there'll be a lot more to this story, including what happened, and why, but right now I'm immersed in the whole "What the hell is going on here!?" phase, worrying more about finding a secure, defensible location than in investigating the deeper questions. That'll come in time.

The combat is mostly pretty fun, though it quickly becomes obvious that being mobbed by more than two zombies at once is really, really, really dangerous. The zombies are pretty easy to kill, but it takes enough time that you'll be overwhelmed. I think I've survived one encounter with three zombies; every other time it's been three or more, I've died horribly.

I really love how they handle weaponry. Weapons are easy to find, though they won't necessarily be the weapons most appropriate for your particular character. Blunt weapons are the most common, though I've started finding a few more bladed weapons recently, which is good for Xian. Weapons have a durability rating, and degrade pretty quickly, especially this early in the game; later on, I think you start finding weapons that are a lot more durable.

You'll also find work tables around the island that will let you repair damaged weapons, upgrade them, or create entirely new ones. Keeping your weapons in good shape is vitally important. You can fight zombies unarmed, and it is advisable to do so whenever it's safe, but weapons will take them down a LOT faster. Taking them down quickly is the key to staying alive if you've got several of them after you at once.

There's some good character development stuff straight out of the roleplaying game genres with skill trees and stuff, but I'm not far enough in the game to have played with all of that yet. It looks like there's a lot more to this game than just wandering around killing zombies though, so that's a pleasant surprise. I'm glad I've got it, and I'll be looking forward to Dead Island: Riptide, the upcoming add-on for the game.

It's possible to play it co-op, and apparently there are particularly dangerous parts of the island where that's highly advisable. I might have to see if I know anyone who plays who'd be interested in getting in on a game with me at some point.

It can be difficult to get a real idea of what a game is like from a written description, so if you want a better idea of how it plays, I highly recommend this "Let's Play" YouTube series by Sips and Sjin of the Yogscast. (Viewers be warned about NSFW language, however.)

New Fiction

I have a new story all outlined. This one is going up on the site as I write it for sure, it's been far too long now. Stay tuned... I do think this whole outlining before I write thing is worth it, though it does make me think I'm going to have to come up with new writing and posting rules. I'm not convinced I'll be able to outline everything I write and still write every day.

But then maybe I will. I guess we'll see. I can always work on outlines while other stories are being written, after all.

How to Use Send to Kindle With Squarespace Blogs

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Amazon just made available a "Send to Kindle" function that allows bloggers to make it easy for people to read their posts on Kindle reading devices of all types. As a big Kindle fan, I was intrigued, but couldn't find any resources at hand to make it easy to set up on Squarespace websites.

I didn't want to just give up, so I decided to figure it out. It turns out that it's actually pretty easy. I just had to work out the CSS classes Squarespace uses and then work out where to put the code snippets Amazon generates.

Lucky for all my fellow Squarespace users, I've done all of this already and am happy to share!

Squarespace CSS

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For marking the title, author and publication date, select Custom CSS Selectors.

  • Article Title: .entry-title
  • Article Author: .author
  • Article Publication Date: .date

squarespace_css_02.png

For marking the main body of content on your pages, again select Custom CSS Selectors.

  • Main Content Body: .sqs-block-content

I didn't exclude any content. If you want to do that, more research will be required, I'm afraid. Likewise, my content is not paginated, so you'll have to do a bit of investigation if you have to cope with that.

Code Injection

The code injection part of the process is fairly straight-forward.

Generate widget code on Amazon's Send to Kindle page first. It gives you code for two steps. Step 1 generates javascript code to make it work. Step 2 generates HTML code using the custom CSS selectors.

From the Settings menu, go to Code Injection.

The Javascript from Step 1 gets pasted somewhere into the Footer code of your site. This makes it functional on every page of your site. No matter how many blogs you have on your site (I have three,) this one block of code will work for all of them.

The HTML from Step 2 gets pasted into each blog individually.

Go to the Content Manager and take a look at the blog you want to apply Send to Kindle to.

Click Blog Settings, and go to Advanced from the top.

Paste the Step 2 HTML code into "Post Blog Item Code Injection."

Advanced Link Placement

Because the Step 2 code is HTML, you can theoretically put it anywhere you want in a blog post. Putting it in the footer will place it at the bottom of a post. Don't put the code in "Page Header Code Injection"; you need it placed in the blog post, not on the page containing the blog post.

If you want it elsewhere within a blog post, like at the top, you can insert an HTML code block into the post and put the HTML code there. If you decide to go this route, you will have to do it individually for EVERY blog post you want to use Send to Kindle with. Unfortunately I haven't figured out a way to edit a blog post header yet; I assume there is no such thing in the current implementation.

If anyone does look into content exclusions and pagination, I'd love to hear about it. Hope you found this helpful!