Neil Gaiman and Caring About Characters

Interesting article by Neil Gaiman about writing about characters. Its one of those things that make perfect sense once you read it.

When I was a young writer I would come up with stories, and then put characters into them. And the character would often feel like, in Thurber’s words, “a mere device”.

I think the breakthrough for me came when I started writing comics — because I believed in them. Because sometimes I would be using characters I hadn’t created, but simply cared about. And over the next few years I learned that if you cared enough about a character, what happened to them was interesting.

I’m not sure that’s much of an aphorism, but it’s important to care about them, about who they are and what they do. And (for me) for them to be people I would want to spend time with — I don’t really care who’s side they are on, and they can be monstrous on the outside or, worse, on the inside, but you have to want to spend time with them. If you met one of these characters socially would you talk to them, or make an excuse and flee?

(As a sidenote, I think the years I spent as a journalist doing interviews for magazines really helped as well. I learned a lot about speech patterns, and ways of describing people, and letting their words describe them. But more importantly, I learned that if you are actually interested, and not faking it, people will tell you anything, and you will take pleasure in their company. So talk to people, especially people you would normally avoid talking to. Find out their stories. Figure out how you would put them into stories, if you would, or just describe them with a few words.)
Neil Gaiman

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo!

Buffalo

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo!

This is actually a proper sentence. How you may ask? Why, through the wonderful homophone! A homophone is a word with more than one meaning. In the case of buffalo it means the animal, the city in New York (which is famous for it’s hot wings), and the verb which means to bully. So basically the sentence is saying that the buffalo from Buffalo, which other Buffalonian buffalo buffalo, also buffalo Buffalo buffalo. See easy!

For more info on this and other homophones visit Wikipedia!

Tags, Categories, and Updates, Oh My!

As you can see the The Journal section has been updated.

The biggest update you’ll find, besides the theme change, is the addition of Tags. You can find these at the bottom of each of my posts and on the sidebar on the right. Now the first question is what are tags? They’re another form of categorization. But don’t I have categories to categorize my posts? Yes but some search engines prefer Tags.

So whats the difference between Categories and Tags? Categories work like a folder structure. How do you classify a Dog? First you figure out if its a mammal, then see if it belongs to the order Carnivora, after that you see if it belongs to family Canidae. If thats all true then you check if it belongs to the genus Canus, whereupon we get to the species C. Lupus which then takes us to our old friend Canis lupus familiaris. Whew, that explanation was long winded and obtuse. Basically categories are straight lines. You also see this type of structure with the filing of documents in meatspace and on your computer. C:\Documents and Settings\Erik\My Documents refers to a folder that is located on the C: Drive within that drive you have the sub-category Documents and Settings, within this Folder we have the User profile Erik, and within that we have the folder My Documents.

Tags, or labels if you use a Google product, on the other hand are descriptive. What kind of dog is it? It’s a big furry red dog with a tennis ball in its mouth and muddy paws. Pretty descriptive, no? If somebody told you to look out for that animal you’d be able to spot it rather quickly. Likewise this article falls under the Tags:

As you can see Tags and Categories have diverse uses in computer technology and in real life. As such both Categorization methods work to make it easier for you to find interesting and meaningful content.

Exciting New Features From Dell (Non-Snarky Edition)

If you’d like to read a satirical and much more amusing account of this post click here otherwise read on
Recently I discovered that Dell Computer ships all new computers with a spyware package known as “My Way”.

“My Way” logs all your search queries, records where you go on the internet, and redirects merchant sites like amazon to a “My Way” sponsored site like bobswharehouse.

“My Way” is also difficult to uninstall/remove. The program does not unistall automatially, but requires delving into the innards of your Operating System in a time consuming process.

I cannot recommend purchasing a Dell for your computer needs.

Sources

The Accusation
Dell’s Response
Wikipedia article on the Spyware “My Way”

Exciting New Features From Dell Computer!

Do you sometimes look at your computer and think, ” I wish I had a program that would would monitor where I go and report back to a third party! And when I mean to type in a site it would redirect me to their search engine. But I just don’t have the time to go download it on some shady part of the internet!”
Well Great News! Dell Computer does this for you absolutely free! Not only do they sell you subpar hardware, they hoe you out to anyone who’s willing to pay them!
What’s that? Thats not what you want on your new computer? Well if you slip them fifty bucks they can remove it for you.

The Accusation
Dell’s Response
Wikipedia article on the Spyware “My Way”

Obviously you can just reinstall the operating system yourself, but that defeats the point of buying a prebuilt computer in the first place. It’s also outside the technical scope of most home users.