The Future of Reading

December 5th, 2007

In a word: creepy.

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The Purple Bar Of Win!

November 27th, 2007

And here, like every year, are the pictures of what my winning page on the website looked like:

Charl’s Page On NanNoWriMo 2007

Charl’s NaNoWriMo 2007 Word Count Graph

Note the Purple Bar of Win in the top image! 🙂

Though the bar is nice, I prefer last year’s look – a Flash animated book, with a cover and turning pages – which was extremely clever and a big confidence builder. It made excerpts look like they were already published.

This year’s winner’s certificate was very nice, though:

NaNoWriMo Winner Certificate 2007!

I put my early (November 26) win down to my Neo. Being able to write everywhere, including the beach, massively boosted my productivity and allowed me to write at a relaxed pace, producing 1667 words a day instead of relying on marathon many-thousand-word sessions.

Here’s an Excel graph breakdown of how I wrote this month. (No, I didn’t make the Excel file. I downloaded it from the NaNoWriMo forums.)

Excel Graph of my NaNaNoWriMo2007

And here are my stats from the same Excel file. My 50,000 words took me 25 hours:

Stats Of Interest

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I won NaNoWriMo 2007

November 26th, 2007
NaNoWriMo Winner 2007!

A message from NaNoWriMo staff:

You Won!

So it’s official.

Our word-counting robots have analyzed your November novel, and they’ve delivered their final, binding assessment: Winner.

You did it! You did it! You did it!

This was, without a doubt, one of the hardest years on record for NaNoWriMo participants. At some point in the literary marathon, most of your fellow writers fell by the wayside. They lost their books to work, to family, to school, and to the hundreds of other distractions and interruptions that tend to shutter creative undertakings like NaNoWriMo.

But not you. Not this year.

This November, you set out with the ridiculously ambitious goal of bringing an entire world into existence in just 30 days. When the going got tough, you got writing. Now you’re one of the few souls who can look back on 2007 as the year you were brave enough to enter the world’s largest writing contest, and disciplined enough to emerge a winner.

We salute your imagination and perseverance. The question we ask you now is this: If you were able to write a not-horrible novel in 30 days, what else can you do? The book you wrote this month is just the beginning.

From here on out, the sky’s the limit.

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The Number One Reason People Fail NaNoWriMo

October 31st, 2007
NaNoWriMo Stats

According to this graph, the number one reason people fail NaNoWriMo is also the simplest: they never started.

(Must post a few words tomorrow morning when NaNoWriMo starts, to avoid the dreaded ‘never started’ curse.)


My Neo has arrived!

October 30th, 2007
My brand new Neo

My Neo has just arrived. I got a pick up notice from Australia Post in the mailbox today and charged down to the local post office.

Thirty minutes later, I’d tested out my brand new Neo, and uploaded the fan-made fonts. Like the font in the picture – Bold. (There’s also Klingon, for those who can touch type and don’t want anyone reading over their shoulder.) The fonts only appear on the screen. What you download from the Neo into your main computer for editing is plain text.

That isn’t a handicap at all. Formatting isn’t really much of an issue to a writer. I hardly ever use any, and if I wanted to use any, I could use the tricks they mention on the AlphaSmart – Writing Tools Flickr group: making Word autocorrect *bold*, _underline_ and /italics/.

It’s so easy to get the data from my Neo onto my iBook. OSX automatically recognises the Neo as a keyboard. I can click inside a Word document or web form, wait a second for the machines to connect, then click ‘send’ and watch the words appearing on my screen, as if someone were typing around 150 words per minute. If I’m downloading inside Word, I can see it autocorrecting on the fly.

I’ve heard it said that the Neo has the most comfortable keyboard ever – and I can confirm that’s true. It’s certainly the fastest keyboard I’ve ever used. The inbuilt typing timer has clocked me at 96 words per minute, even though I’m still getting used to the keyboard and I’m tired. At that rate, I could finish my daily NaNoWriMo word count in under 18 minutes.

Chores kept me from taking my Neo down to the beach and writing. By the time I’d finished, the sun was just going down and I was having to make the screen font larger and larger in order to read. Tomorrow I’ll have more time. I plan to take my Neo with me everywhere, and keep it by my bed, in case inspiration strikes. (I really needed it last night. It’s funny how ideas come to you as you go to sleep. Must be something to do with dreaming.)

Anyway, I couldn’t be happier with my new purchase. My writing friends are going to be pea-green with envy! 😉

(This was written on my Neo, of course, and downloaded right into the web form!)

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A Great Investment?

October 26th, 2007

Maybe it’s the upcoming NaNoWriMo 2007 artificially inflating the prices, but I just saw a second-hand Neo on eBay for US$198. That’s only US$1 less than a brand new Neo with the NaNoWriMo discount.

As the three year warranty on new Neos must be worth more than US$1, the second-hand Neo has actually *gained* in value, putting a bit of cheap electronics up there with artworks, wine and antiques as a great investment. 😉

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October 21st, 2007

Just ordered two bottles of Floris Chocolate:

Floris Chocolate

and two bottles of Redoak Chocolate Stout:

Redoak Chocolate Stout

from I chose them because their freight is less than half of the other online Australian beer store, though they don’t have Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in stock, and won’t have for two weeks (they answered my e-mail query of yesterday today, even though it’s Sunday!)

If they deliver quickly (and I’m impressed already by their answering an e-mail on Sunday) I’ll keep using them.

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Is Australia In California?

October 15th, 2007

Just had a query about my Alphasmart Neo order:

Hello Charlotte,

We have received an order for an AlphaSmart Neo on confirmation number xxxxxx done on 10-14-07 with a Visa card. We are showing a shipping address of Rob xxxxxx.

We do check here for credit fraud and were alerted by the different addresses. Is this a valid order? We are some what confused by the city and state listed for you. Is Australia your city in Californai?

Thank you,


Is Australia in California? That is officially the stupidest question I’ve ever been asked.

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Migrating Whales

October 15th, 2007
Humpback Whale

The humpback whales are heading south. I followed several, from headland to headland, this afternoon. Every couple of minutes they’d breach. I guess that tells other whales where they are.

I tell you what, whales don’t half move. The two white canoes paddling after them started slowing down after a while. They must have been exhausted by the effort of keeping up.

I took a photo, but it didn’t come out very clearly. The breaching whale was at least a kilometre out to sea.

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First cicada

October 15th, 2007

While sitting here working at my desk, I’ve just realised that the regular sound I can hear outside is the chirping of the first cicada.

Late September is the earliest I’ve ever heard one. But that was in the bush, where you get a bigger range of species, including the tiny woolly one that chirps first. I haven’t heard one near my home this early.

I get the impression this summer will be a scorcher…

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Alphasmart Neo

October 15th, 2007
Alphasmart Neo

I’ve been researching a device I can take everywhere for writing. My handwriting is too slow and messy for a notebook. I can type at over 70 words a minute, so why waste time with a pen and paper? But a laptop doesn’t cut it. They run hot, their batteries only last a few hours, and they contain too much precious data – my whole digital life of photos, e-mails, music and more – to cart around and risk destroying. Yes, I’m backed up. But it would kill me to lose my laptop, and it’s all too easy out of the house. One drop onto concrete and it’s history.

Thanks to my Californian friend Rob, I’ve been able to order an Alphasmart Neo. The company, based in Wisconsin, only ships to US addresses so Rob will very kindly airmail the device to me when it arrives in a week.

Neos have been called the ‘Ultimate Writing Machine‘. They are nothing more than a keyboard and a black and white screen six lines high. There’s no hard drive, no wireless internet, no e-mail, WWW or games. You can turn them on, like a pocket calculator, and start writing in seconds. They can store up to 200 pages of text. Plug in the USB cable, and that text is transferred to your real computer for editing.

The battery life is what amazes me. Seven hundred hours on three AA batteries and the device doesn’t heat up. That means you can use it in bed, all day if you wish, and not worry about the sheets blocking the cooling fans. I could still write if I was sick.

A Neo would be the perfect writing device to take on a plane. When you’re flying between London and Sydney, and you’ve got a few hours of laptop battery life to spend during a flight that could take more than 24 hours, including stop overs, productivity takes a dive. But you could use a Neo continuously for a month, then pop in three more AA batteries and use it continuously for another month. (But if I tried that, I’d really be sick! 😉

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Big Blue

October 12th, 2007

Just changed Charlotte’s Web over to a theme called Big Blue 01. It has widgets (which I setup for the theme dotdotdot yesterday) and a pleasant, easy-to-read balance between space and words.

It also marks a blogging change. I’m not bothering with categories anymore. It’s tags all the way from now on.

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Odd To Spelling Chequers by Anon.

October 5th, 2007

From “So You Want To Write” by Joan Rosier-Jones:

I have a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marquees for my revue
Miss steaks eye cannot sea.
When eye strike a quay, right a word
I weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar wright
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee four two late
And eye can put the error rite
It’s rarely, rarely grate.
I’ve run this poem threw it
I’m shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in its weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

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Thousand Layer Wind

October 5th, 2007

Thousand Layer Wind

Originally uploaded by travellingcharl.

Thousand Layer Wind is a thin-sliced Chinese terrine of pig skin, served with very garlicky-salty sauce at the Yee King in Sussex Street. Brian, Chris and I went to the city last Sunday especially so I could have this again.

I’m the only person I know who likes it. Make that “loves it”. I love the almost crisp texture, and the rich bacon flavour. But whenever I eat it, the waiter looks at me strangely when I order and asks if I know what I’m getting myself into, and I end up having the whole plate to myself because no one else wants to have any.

Come to think of it, that’s a GOOD thing! 😉

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Introductory Note

September 11th, 2007

Apparently the introductory note for the Táin Bó Cúailnge goes like this:

I who have copied down this story
or more accurately fantasy
do not credit the details
of the story or fantasy
some things in it are devilish lies
or some poetical figments
some seem possible
and others not
some are for
the enjoyment of idiots

This could be the introductory note of almost any fantasy or sci-fi story! Though “enjoyment of idiots” is a little harsh.

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Paranoid Nonsense

September 6th, 2007

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

“I personally think it’s over-the-top paranoia to make you feel scared,” said Anthony Miller, manager of the Museum of Sydney Cafe in Bridge Street, which was surrounded yesterday by wire fences, hordes of police and undercover officers.

“On Monday an APEC security officer asked us to limit our outdoor furniture. He said if you are setting a table, don’t set it with knives and forks because they can be used as a potential weapon by terrorists.”

How ridiculous! So terrorists are supposed to be able to make weapons out of butter knives? The same butter knives that bend when I use them to open jam jars? Ah, but terrorists are magical bogeymen and can harden butter knives into terrifying weapons.

The security in Sydney is insanity. I don’t recall this nonsense going on when Clinton visited. He went for a morning jog on the beach, watched by only a few guards, and making conversation with amazed fellow joggers.

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The Reading Room at the British Museum

September 5th, 2007

Now THIS is a library. The Reading Room made my jaw drop, and my photos didn’t do it justice. This photo does.

Sorry, I have no idea who took it.

The Reading Room at the British Museum

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Yes, and the Tolkien too!

September 3rd, 2007

Yes, and the Tolkien too!

Originally uploaded by travellingcharl.

I need more Fantasy and Sci-fi titles. Still single? Does daylight scare you? Do family members talk about you in inaudible whispers while never actually talking directly to you? Do you write dark poetry with fine felt tip black pen? Do you feel you’re becoming a type? Or are you able to hide all these symptoms beneath a happy facade which is becoming harder and harder to keep up? You know what you have to do, you always have. Give them up. Come on! All of them. Hand them over. You know you’ll be better for it. Yes, and the Tolkien too!

Belinda, c.j.b. and I stumbled across John’s Bookstore in Mosman today. It’s a charming place, specialising in second hand books and sprinkled with humorous signs. The one above had us falling about laughing. c.j.b. took this with my camera, as I couldn’t get it to focus. (Thanks, c.j.b.!)

They were playing Bjork’s Volta album, which I just have to get.

Belinda took such a great fancy to Mosman (she thought it was Manly) that she started checking property prices in the real estate windows and wondering aloud if she should move there.

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Mosman Geocaching

September 2nd, 2007

Rosherville Lighthouse

Originally uploaded by travellingcharl.

Lunch At Don Adan’s

Originally uploaded by travellingcharl.

Belinda, c.j.b. and I attempted a few geocaches today around Mosman. The lighthouse is Rosherville Lighthouse, where the geocache “Forgotten Lighthouse” is supposed to be. We didn’t find it, or the next cache, Pikku’s Birthday, but the views were excellent and we got plenty of exercise.

We had an excellent lunch (and then an afternoon tea) at Don Adan’s coffee shop.

Lunch was so delicious-looking, I sampled it before remembering I should take a photo. I can’t quite remember what it was called – pusasos? – but it was a couple of tortillas, with refried black beans, avocado, pickled jalapenos and salsa. The tortillas, salsa and refried beans tasted homemade and the whole dish was heavenly. I washed it down with Ceylon Cinnamon tea.

After we’d shopped in Mosman and done the geocache near Boronia House, we came back to Don Adan’s for afternoon tea. Chris and I had hot cider, which (as usual) was incredible. It tastes like they pressed the apples themselves, they add lots of spices, and the result is a drink like hot apple pie. Fantastic. I had a flourless chocolate cookie to go with it, and Belinda had the best brownie she’s ever eaten.

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Lunar Eclipse August 2007

August 29th, 2007

Lunar Eclipse August 2007

Originally uploaded by c.j.b.

c.j.b’s lunar eclipse sequence. Being out of Sydney, he gets to see astronomical events without light pollution.

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