If this doesn’t blow your mind…

Just heard some comments by Salman Khan of the Khan Academy (wikipedia) – over two thousand free educational videos on almost any conceivable topic, and a growing library of self-paced exercises.

One finding of their class profiles is that people who start as “slow” learners may end up a the top of the class if they’re allowed to learn at their own pace, but required to master their materials before moving on.

God bless him, it’s the future of learning.


Oh, the point … what Warren Ellis uses.

books, montalbano, reflected books, and gabby

Oh, there was a reason I got on the Warren Ellis kick. He posted a note on what he uses to write. Maybe I’ll me-too sometime and post a note on the tools I use, already having done the why and the how, but for now I wanted to focus on the following piece of wisdom from Warren Ellis which should be familiar to anyone who’s ever worked on a Ph.D. thesis:

Back-ups. Oh, my god. Burning your stuff to CD or DVD is not good enough. Trust me on that. Things go wrong. Understand that Storage Will Always Fail. Always. I have a ruggedised, manly and capacious 32GB USB memory stick that can withstand fire, water, gunshots and the hairy arseteeth of Cthulhu itself — but my daughter decided she wanted to liberate one of my bags for her use, took the stick out of it and put it ’somewhere safe.’ It has never been seen again. Storage Will Always Fail.

Dropbox is your friend. 2GB of storage for free, a frankly superb little piece of software that syncs your stuff off into the cloud as easily and simply and clearly as possible. I know writers, artists and tv producers who swear by Dropbox, and so do I. I have Dropbox on both computers. If you have a smart phone of the iOS or Android type, you can also have an Dropbox instance on your phone, a fact that’s saved my arse more than once.

I also auto-sync Computer 1 hourly to Jungle Disk. Very cheap, very good. My media library lives on another storage service, Zumodrive, that lives both in the cloud and on my machine as a z:/ drive. (The Zumodrive application also lives on Computer 2.)

Also, I do all mail through Gmail. Which means that a copy of every document I send off lives in the Gmail cloud.

And every five minutes or so, a Western Digital 1TB MyBook copies everything on Computer 1’s desktop.

Paranoid? Yes. Covered? Yes.

Got that, everyone? If you write, especially if you want to do it for a living, go do something like this. And for God’s sake, please, keep a copy offsite. I know too many people who have lost their homes and their art or writing to fire.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Books, Montalbano, reflected books, and Gabby – a reminder to me that my library is a potential firetrap (God forbid!) and that I should be better at storing stuff offsite.

Station Ident … NOT

This is not warrenellis.com. If it was, I would be more irritated, irritable … and interesting.

this is not warrenellis.com

(Also, Warren Ellis doesn’t post me-too station idents because he’s overslept for church after a long night writing. I don’t think he does go to church, but if he did miss church because he’d spent a hard night writing, the minister would come to him, at the pub, when Warren Ellis was damn well ready – God being everywhere, of course, and it’s the minister that would need him some Ellis. Me, I need me some God.

Stupid earlybirds. Why doesn’t anybody have proper Evensong anymore?)

-the Centaur

Hester Furey’s Little Fish

Finishing Line Press is about to publish a chapbook of my friend Hester Furey’s poems, titled Little Fish. Little Fish is available for pre-order at $12 with $3 shipping through September 1st. After October 29, it will be available on Amazon, but production is based on what people order now, so if you order now, it will help her and her publisher.

Hm. They don’t make it easy to include a link to buy the book, do they? You can find it if you scroll down the page, but in case you miss it … let’s see, Google Chrome has a nice element inspector … doop de doo … grabbing the HTML … OK. Let’s try this: you can preorder Little Fish here:

That should send you directly to the Finishing Line Press PayPal page where you can preorder Little Fish. Hopefully that will work! So please, check her work out, and support Finishing Line Press!

-the Centaur

P.S. You can also find some of Hester Furey’s earlier scholarly work via Project Muse and JSTOR.

P.P.S. Me saying something nice about Finishing Line Press does not mean I don’t also want you to go check out the many fine books available from Bell Bridge Books. Yes, yes, yes, I know they don’t even remotely compete, I’m trying to show support, work with me here.

The Real Fortress of Solitude

More than a sixth of a mile underground. 122 degrees Fahrenheit. 100% humidity. An environment that could kill a man in ten minutes – filled with 35 foot long selenite spears straight out of the Fortress of Solitude.

They’re the Naica caves, one of the most beautiful environments on Earth:

Don’t let your cats watch you play Portal…

…it can have … UNFORTUNATE … consequences:

No cats were harmed in the linking of this post … but, well, I can’t say that for the photography.

-the Centaur

P.S. The cat is not mine :-), but I do like playing Portal. For those that don’t get the joke, Portal is a game in which players have a “hole gun” that can create a magic portal on a wall that the player can jump through, unless the player is a cat. My buddy Gordon hooked me up with this meme.

Writers in Their Creative Spaces

the centaur in his native habitat: a forest of books
Recently a few friends (most recently Jim Davies) have sent me pointers to the Where I Write project, which shows off the creative spaces where many science fiction and fantasy artists do their writing. Some of the writing setups are amazingly spare; others are simply amazing. Check it out!

-the Centaur
Pictured above is one of my “creative spaces”, though a fully accurate picture would probably show me at my local Barnes and Noble writing group or at Borders with the laptop and a Javakula from Seattle’s Best Coffee.