Category: Ramblings Page 1 of 3

Get Your Geek On

In Canada, your choices for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are far and few between. Where I am in Ottawa (the nation’s capital dontchaknow)  it really comes down to two: Rogers and Bell Canada. I won’t talk about the rates and how we in Canada are charged amongst the highest for the least in the world (Google it), rather I will talk about my experiences with using Rogers and their Cable Modem.

Rogers uses a Hitron POS. When I lived in Ottawa back in 2006-2010, I used Rogers and returned this POS at least three times. Why? The WiFi portion of the modem would just stop performing. Note that this opinion of the Hitron is mine based on a decade of use.

Now back in Ottawa since 2014, I went back to Rogers (Bell didn’t have the fibre lines in my area of Barrhaven in Nepean at the time). I have since returned the Hitron POS three times (four?). I am on my fourth (fifth?) cable modem. And they don’t give you a new one, you get a refurbished one that someone else returned because it was crap. Add to this that the WiFi signal can barely cover a house of less than 2000 sqft, and that it struggles to support four people, plus I was rebooting the router EVERY DAY, and I simply had enough. When you complain to Rogers you get the literal shrug. They don’t care. They look at you as if this is YOUR fault. If they did care, they would replace the shitty cable modems with ANYTHING, and would lower their rates. They treat ones and zeroes like it’s water or electricity. News Flash: It’s not.

Enter Ubiquiti. A company formed by a former Apple WiFi technician named Robert Pera when he noticed Apple WiFi was underpowered. A co-worker of mine highly (and I mean highly) recommended Ubiquiti and their Unifi products. So, I just went out and bought a complete Unifi solution. I bought the Unifi Security Gateway (router), the Unifi 8 port 150W POE switch, the Unifi AC Lite WAP, and the Unifi Cloud Key. I bridged the Rogers router, connected everything, struggled to understand just what I was doing for about an hour, then had a short chat session with Ubiquiti tech help, and bam! I have a WiFi signal in my house that is probably pissing the neighbours off (by dominating the channels). This thing can handle four users simultaneously with no problem. It uses 2.4GHz ands 5GHz simultaneously allowing maximum throughput. This thing SINGS.

I’m so happy right now!

Beta Readers, Sci-Fi and Urban Fantasy

Beta Readers

Cill Darae, Volume 5 of the New Druids Series is almost through the second draft. I have a few beta readers lined up and I am still interested in more. Beta Reading is a task. It requires a critical mind and sense of what good epic fantasy is all about. If you are interested send me an email requested to be considered and why you think you are a good fit.

I’ve had the good and the bad with beta readers. A few I consider exceptional. Their feedback to me was invaluable and I’m so glad to have met these people. Some simply took my novels and that was it. Beta reading is critical to authors; it is through the back and forth that a novel starts to polish. Freamhaigh was the novel that saw the most feedback from beta readers and I find it stands above my other novels. So please, if interested, shoot me an email at donalddallan@gmail.com

Urban Fantasy

I adore urban fantasy. Its my dirty little secret. There is something about reading fantasy in a modern, urban setting that I really, really enjoy. There are some truly talented authors writing urban fantasy today [shoot me an email and I will share with you my list of favourite authors in this genre]. I would love to be one. I’ve wanted to write something in this genre for a while now and I think I have the start of a concept. That’s all: just a concept. The New Druids series was always much more than a concept: I had visualised the entire series, you see, almost in one painful flash of insight.

So, I need to flush out my urban fantasy idea a little (okay, a lot) more. Then I am going to try traditional publishing. I am prepared for rejection. I feel I have already become an accomplished author and have nothing to prove to myself. If it fails the big houses, then I will self-publish, again. The premise, in case you are curious, is a man finds a single torn page hidden inside an old book. It contains a spell for finding things, written in old English. He tries it, and it works. Then he wants more spells. But there is another group(s) looking for the same thing. And another trying to wipe magic from the world. And history, ancient history, from Arthurian legend starts to expose itself [with a nod to Mary Stewart]. Dun dun dun!

Anyway, that’s the premise. It doesn’t sound like much, but with my imagination, I am sure it is going somewhere interesting! I can say that I love my heroes simple: Honest people like you and me that suddenly find themselves having to do something extraordinary. And not knowing why, or how. Not like a certain series where the main characters are all omnipotent demigods. They would have a problem, struggle through chapters and chapters and then suddenly realise: “Hey, we’re gods…” and snap their fingers. Yes, I hated the Belgariad… The struggle is real, dammit!

Science Fiction

I still have a sci-fi novel on the back burner. It is the prequel to the New Druids series, but set in today’s time. Yes. I have a sci-fi novel that prequels my fantasy world.  I had flushed this story out (single novel) a number of years ago. Then I wrote myself into a corner by writing something truly horrible (I had an AI carrying on a conversation with the protagonist’s subconscious…shudder). Happily, the New Druids series sprouted from that seed. But, I need to write it and I will. It’s not a truly happy ending kind of book. It’s a little On The Beach, if you know what I mean. It yells at me for not writing it. It has an attitude. Nasty thing.

New Author Interview

A new author interview with me was just posted. Head over and have a look!

https://allauthor.com/interview/donalddallan/

Donald D. Allan latest interview by AllAuthor Born in Ottawa, Canada, author Donald D. Allen always wanted to write for a living, fantasy always being his go-to genre. He joined the Naval Reserves in 1982 at 17, ignoring the advice of his teacher to become a writer. It was only after he retired from the military that he returned to writing. In his books, the main storyline drives his characters, but his characters always write themselves. Donald’s series explores the church, science, and magic. The names of his books, Duilleog means leaf, Craobh means branch, Stoc means stalk, and Freamhaigh means root. To him, it’s not fantasy unless magic is present and it’s not sci-fi unless the future of mankind is at stake, but he loves both genres. To the rest, he advises writing from your heart because you love to write and don’t worry about what people think. Read full interview…

 

 

Show Don’t Tell

In the world of writing one phrase is used more often than any other when one author is giving advice on how to write: Show, Don’t Tell.

There are so many posts and blogs about this topic that it staggers the mind. And look, I just added to the pile! I digress. Somone just posted a question on how to “show, don’t tell” on Reddit. I rolled my eyes. Why? A ten second Google effort would answer the question, but clearly, this Redditor is looking for Karma. Nonetheless, I clicked and went to the post. Why? I wanted to see what humorous comments I would find. One of those comments had a link. I hovered, wondering if this was going to be a risky click, and clicked.

I was taken to perhaps the best description of Show Don’t Tell I have ever read. Here’s the link (not risky at all, trust me): Nuts and Bolts: “Thought” Verbs.  Still not sure you want to click it? What if I told you the essay on that page was written by Chuck Palahniuk, author of the novel Fight Club? I’ll wait here until you get back.

Back? See? What did I tell you? Brilliant.

By the way, if that has you excited about writing I encourage you to go read Passive vs Active Voice articles. And if that excites you, then I challenge you to go through anything you’ve written and delete the word “that” out of your sentences. Try it. It will improve your writing quite noticeably. Sometimes you can’t remove it. Like in this paragraph.

All-in-all a wonderful essay by Mr. Palahniuk. So happy I read this just before I started the second draft of Freamhaigh.

Ciao.

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