Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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#Nerdy9th – Sleep Data!

So, about 6 months ago, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea (I woke myself up not breathing) and got a CPAP machine. While I dislike the indignity of wearing it at night, and there are certain design flaws (the vent blows air up and into my partner’s hair/neck all night when I spoon him), I  do appreciate the fact that I’m getting better quality sleep.

Also, because I am a nerdy, I like the data.

Screenshot 2017-02-15 15.56.47.png

See, my CPAP is a Resmed MyAir, so it automatically uploads data to the “cloud” (and snitches on me to my insurance company, of course). But the data isn’t very comprehensive. I mean, I know the CPAP can track more than this, right?

Screenshot 2017-02-15 15.57.50.png

Enter SleepyHead, an open source project to mine the data out of CPAP machines! It’s a great little project that gives me way more information than I can get from the CPAP manufacturer’s website.

Screenshot 2017-02-15 16.12.37.png

I do have to take the user-accessible SD card out of my CPAP and put it into my laptop in order to download the data– and when I forgot for a couple of months, the CPAP purged some of the data for space (so helpful of it….) But as long as I remember to do it about once a month– say when I replace the mask– I capture all the data I could want!

It’s a little thing, but that’s my #nerdy9th bit of love for today.

A Video Game Review for #nerdy9th

For #nerdy9th, I’m going to talk about my recent video game obsession!

As you may know, I am not much of a video gamer. I tend to get “hooked” and obsess over games for a few months before dropping them. I played the Sims online last year for about 6 months. I play Minecraft, but periodically delete my worlds to start all over. I loved Final Fantasy X, but that’s about the only typical video game I get into. Most video games are either too solitary– they are single-player games, like FFX– and therefore don’t really scratch the social itch I have as a strong extrovert. Or they’re too multiplayer, and I end up either addicted to the large online community (and therefore have to cut myself off), or the community is just awful, because apparently being on the Internet gives people free license for being dickbags.

However: I love Rock Band.

I love Rock Band because it is a small-scale multiplayer game. Like a LAN party game. And it’s cooperative, so I’m not sitting there trying to teabag my best friend (or, more likely, be a good sport while he frags me into oblivion).

I love Rock Band because it’s basically home-karaoke, but you can play even if you can’t carry a tune with your voice. But it’s one flaw is that it has a bunch of funny “instruments” that, really, are just for a video game and have no other purpose.

Enter Rock Smith.

This video game is like Rock Band or Guitar Hero… but for functioning guitars and basses. It doesn’t have a vocal component (although some versions might?) or drums, but if you have a guitar or bass guitar with an electric pickup, you can use the special included USB cord to plug in and play.

It rocks so hard.

2015-12-25 08.40.57I got a bass for Christmas (Fender P-bass, in case you were wondering), and I’ve been practicing and taking lessons, both online and in a music store. I’m learning solid fundamentals in my lessons, and reinforcing them with the online videos I’m watching. Rock Smith has a series of lessons as well that combine a video with a practice session, where you apply what was in the video, and the game “listens” and tells you if you did it right.

It also has a series of little arcade games, like a duck-shooter that you play by hitting the right fret and picking the note. Or a slider game where, if you overshoot the slide, your little ninja guy falls off a tower and dies. These are extremely useful exercises for teaching some basic techniques and training the muscle memory to be able to use them.

Oh, and did I mention the Session Mode (freeform, where you can add in studio instruments, like a drum machine or piano as needed)?

There’s even a “mastery” play mode where, when you’ve started to really master a song, Rock Smith will hide the note prompts from you. In case you hadn’t noticed, most rock bands do not have a music stand and sheet music in front of them on stage, and Rock Smith aims to get you playing without having to look at the screen, too.

Want multiplayer? Aaaah, there’s that itch! My guitar-wielding friend and I can get together and rock out to the same tune, much as we would for Rock Band… but with our actual skills being relevant!

One of the songs my teacher gave me to learn was in the song list, so I tried playing with it. My teacher gave me a somewhat different arrangement than Rock Smith has, but the game doesn’t know if I’m playing a C on the E string or the A string, as long as the sound is right, so I can use my teacher’s instructions to give me a “boost up” in Rock Smith.

It can’t teach you proper finger position or posture, although there are videos that cover those topics. But the cable just getting the notes that you play, not how you play them. So I still need to reinforce good posture and playing position in order to learn good habits and not mess up my body or develop sloppy fingering technique.

But as of last night, I’m at 69% mastery of the All-American Rejects’ song Gives You Hell, and that puts a big smile on my face.

#nerdy9th: NaNoWriMo is Coming! And World-Building!

It’s #nerdy9th, and that means time to share some geek-deep love of something!

PrintI’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2002, and have written several unpublished novels in the program. Sometimes, I write with a hope of publishing, but mostly, I write for the sheer joy of writing. It’s like when I was a kid and my favorite vacation involved holing up with a typewriter for a week.

Many years ago, I wrote a world-building website I as part of an exercise in writing CSS. In 2004, I adapted it into a 30-day world-building guide for potential novelists and gamers to use for creating a setting. It takes about 15 minutes a day and it doesn’t make a static world. It makes a rough draft of a setting that you can then use in your creative work. It focuses on the mood of your piece– what are you trying to get people to feel when they read your novel– and then throws all the creative ideas around. Every week, there’s a check-in with the mood, however, and you toss out or set aside anything that doesn’t support that mood in your setting.

That guide has been used in classrooms, writing groups, gaming groups, and online websites. I CC-by licensed it, so anyone can use it with attribution, even if they sell it. It’s been translated into a few languages, and is one of the things I’ve written that probably has had the widest reach. I’m proud of it, even though there are spots where the science is a little weak (the geography bits are informed by my college science courses.)

This year, I am planning a Choose Your Own Adventure style novel for NaNoWriMo. I don’t fully have the title yet, but it’ll come to me soon. The mood is a dark, broody adventure in which the setting shifts slightly as the reader goes through the various paths.

Oh, yeah. If I win this year’s NaNoWriMo, I will have written half a million words as a direct result of the project. Some good, some terrible. Some amazing moments in writing that reminded me that I love to write fiction, and to keep doing it.

NaNoWriMo. Because why should “professionals” get all the fun of making art?

Santicore 2014 Delivers

This is my #nerdy9th post.

So, you know how around the holidays every year there’s some kind of Secret Santa exchange?

In the OSR/gaming world, that exchange comes in the form of Santicore, a swap of adventures, monsters, treasures, NPCs, and ideas that get requested, created, and then published online for everyone to read and use. This year, Santicore is 5 PDFs chock full of tables, artwork, maps, and ideas to use.

My submission is the Golem’s Spa, an underground  manufacturing complex for a giant robot, in the Adventures PDF. Here’s what the requestor sent me yesterday by email:

Wow, it looks like you put a lot of work into my Santicore request. Just to let you know I really appreciate it. The complex fits well with my vision and I will have fun working it into my campaign if things go that way.
It is a great twist that the Woman of Iron is sentient and witty, now how she acquired that consciousness is the question, as her male counterpart was a big destroying lug controlled by his nine smaller-size metal parts each fused to the body of a different wearer. I like the oozes too, this is obviously a different branch of dwarven civilization that sculpted this area! Lots to think about.

I had so much fun writing that adventure, although if I were going to revise it one more time, I’d include more of the feedback I got from one of my beta readers, who had great suggestions for demonstrating the long passage of time. I’d probably also do a finer edit on the whole thing– I noticed when I re-read it yesterday a couple of unclear descriptions. And hire a map artist, because, unsurprisingly, my maps are terrible.

There is no possible way I will ever make as much money as a game designer as I do writing technical manuals. Getting an email like the one above made my day and put a huge smile on my face.

(I don’t remember what my request was, but I’m pretty sure it was the “torture devices in a dungeon” entry, which is filed in Adventures.)

Oh. Dear.

Well, I got to casting-off the cuff last night. I had to stop and spin more yarn twice in the process, because picot edges take a lot of yarn.

I was down to the last 5 picots when I ran out of yarn. Not just out of yarn. Out of yarn and fiber, altogether.

I threw a little pity-party and put the cuff in timeout.

This morning, I remembered that I have some leftover camel yarn from making a vest for my sister! I snagged the leftovers and spliced it in. It doesn’t match the color perfectly, but it’s "close enough for government work."

Can’t even tell:

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Notice the little bit of darker yarn on the top edge there (it almost looks like a shadow, but it’s not):2015-02-10 11.53.21

And it’s all done, though I only had enough yarn for one cuff. Given the shape and size, though, I think it might fit my Barbie doll pretty well.

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