Saturday, January 27, 2018

Pumpkin pie

Getting my bake on again. Had a go at pumpkin pie. The recipe was straight forward and easy to follow but the mix came out too wet.

Doing a bit of reading about common mistakes when making pumpkin pie suggests that the pumpkin I used was too wet (since I used fresh instead of canned puree).

For next time, I'll need to strain the pumpkin more or boil it after puree-ing to get rid of excess water.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Week three - success!

My third week writing challenge was a bit of a cheat. I swapped the challenge from week 3 with another one. The challenge I did was to find an image online and write a story about it.

I liked the way I was both inspired and constrained by using a source image.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Second week - success!

Last week's writing challenge was to find a random story online and edit it. Turns out it is a bit harder to find works in progress online.

I did find a piece to work on - about two or so pages. There was a lot that I deleted wholesale, tightened up the dialogue and re-structured parts of it to change the order some of the information was presented. There were several bits of exposition that I cut out as well... though in the authors defence, they may have become pertinent later on in the story. They just weren't important in the section I was working on.

I'm certain the result I have can be edited further, though for the purposes of this exercise, I'm happy with the result that I have.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wacom Graphire4 Tablet - always draws

I have an old Wacom Graphire4 drawing tablet that I've had for many years (and hadn't used it for several). I recently started trying to use it again but kept coming up with a fault. Anytime I used the pen, it registered as drawing, even if it was hovering over the tablet.

I tried every driver under the sun and even did a complete clean install on a fresh system. Nadda.

After a lot of hunting around online and reading other people who'd had similar symptoms, I determined that it was a mechanical issue with the pen. I'll post the fix I found here, and my notes and results below.

Online workaround:

Utilising the Universal Low-Tech Gadget Fix method (aka "Hit the bloody thing"), I've managed to get my pen to work properly again!

1. Plug in your tablet, and remove the tip from your pen if possible (don't worry if you can't though).
2. Open the Tablet control panel in System Preferences.
3. Hold down Opt (or Alt, or ) while clicking the "About" button to get to the diagnostic screen.
4. Hold the pen near the tablet (not touching it) so it registers on the info pane. Check the "Pressure" reading. Mine was hovering around 50, some other people had it up around 220.
5. Actual solution: Bang the pen, side on, against something (the original solution called for a table top, I chickened out and used my thighs to lessen the risk of other damage to the pen). Try 10 hits for starters.
6. Hold the pen to the tablet again. The "Pressure" reading should have drop a little. Sometimes it might not change, but be patient!
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6. Eventually the stuck pressure sensor would loosen, the pressure drop to 0, and the tablet will work properly again. Remember to replace your pen tip if you removed it in step 1.

I hit mine a total of maybe 100 times, gradually using more force at the start until the "Pressure" reading started dropping, then using a similar amount of force thereafter. The pressure dropped slowly from 50 down to 25, then suddenly back to 0, so check the readings often so you don't hit the pen more times than necessary. It is a rather delicate gadget, after all!

If your sensor's stuck under 60 (eg, 50 for mine), and you don't want to hit your pen/can't drop it to zero, you can adjust the "Pressure offset" from 0 to 59; put it to something just above your stuck sensor value (eg, I'd put it to 55 for mine), then you can at least use the tablet, albeit with a slightly reduced pressure sensitivity range.

Disclaimer: YMMV, and this method probably won't work (in fact, will probably make it worse) if your pen actually has a broken magnet/coil/circuit board rather than a stuck pressure sensor. I'm not responsible if you break some other part of your tablet/pen/computer/table/thighs while attempting the repair. If it's under warranty, best to return it to Wacom

End of online workaround

For me, I found the Diagnostic Screen by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on the "About" button. Initially, my pressure was reading around 268! Definitely not good. I don't know if it is the same with newer drivers, but the one I was using (an older one for a Bamboo tablet) has a maximum software offset of only 59, so that didn't do much for me.

After around half an hour of hitting the pen (initially against my palm, then my thigh, then the mousepad, then directly onto the table edge) I was only able to get my no-tip pressure down to around 180. Still no good for drawing. #SadPanda

No idea how many times I hit it, somewhere in the region of 500 to 1,000 times I figure (I was hitting it quite fast at some stages, and hard enough to worry about leaving marks on the table surface) but that's as low as I could get it.

I might try again, but at the moment I'm really tempted to declare this tablet dead and just chuck it. I could buy a replacement pen, but being an older model they are hard to get hold of and when they do come up on eBay they are more expensive than a whole new tablet. I might try and save up for a new low-end tablet at some stage down the track but I don't see the benefit in investing around $100 on something I'm not going to use much. So for the time being .... back to the drawing board?

First week - success!

First week of the eight week writing challenge down. The first week's exercise was to have at least three ten-minute free writing blocks done.

That might seem like a fairly low target but we had the boys here for a large part of that week and I considered one thirty minute session a cheat. I can do a lot more in a week, but managed to hit that target.

Next challenge: find a block of sample text online and edit it.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


As previously mentioned, I don't do new years resolutions. The running joke is that severel years ago I made a new years resolution not to make new years resolutions... which is kind of circular.

However, I do like to set and achieve goals. And an unwritten goal is just a wish. The five parts of a proper, well thought-out goal are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Hence the title of this post (see, I smarts. :P)

So here is my goal: I will complete a writing exercise every week for the first eight weeks of 2018.

It is specific - I have a spreadsheet I wrote out with 8 writing exercises, one to achieve each week.
It is measurable - each Sunday I can evaluate the week and see if I hit that target (or not).
It is attainable - each of the exercises could (theoretically) be knocked out in under an hour; could do all of them in one day. If I wanted to really challenge myself, I'd be aiming at a writing exercise every day (I can do more, one a week is the initial goal).
It is relevant - in order to get better at writing, I need to practice.
It is time-bound - I will have a seven day window to complete each exercise and if I miss one for some reason I have to move on to the next one.

Why only the first eight weeks? I could set myself a longer goal, such as an exercise each week for the whole year, but that is just setting myself up for failure. With work, I know there will be times when I will be away and I don't know when, for how long or what I will be doing. It would be too easy to have some work commitment come up, miss a few weeks and then get depressed that I missed my goal for the whole year.

I'm reasonably confident that I won't have any time away from home in the first two months. After that... not so sure. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

End of the year

Looking back on what I've achieved this year, it makes me wonder were the time has gone. Some things were quite hard, others were quite easy. On the whole, very  glad I didn't injure myself.

I don't do new years resolutions, but I am trying to be more creative. I don't like sitting around passively consuming, such as just being on the phone watching Youtube videos. I've wasted too much time this year doing that, and that's time I'm not getting back.