Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

I happened to be in Korea in 1997 when Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition was released. This is a handout I got from the theater when I went to see it. Just in case you’re wondering, the film was in English with Korean subtitles. 

Star Wars Novelization

Posted: 28 February 2017 in Information, Movies, Retro

I ran across this pre-movie release novelization of Star Wars (note back cover “Soon to be a spectacular motion picture…”, the understatement of the year). December 1976, five months before Star Wars was released. I wonder how many people read the book before seeing the movie. 

I love the artwork on the front, obviously not how Vader appeared in the movie. I think he looks more sinister here. 

Comic Books

Posted: 28 February 2017 in Arts, Information, Literature, Personal History, Retro

Just going through some old comic books. These date back mostly to the late 70s and early 80s, but there are some newer ones, too. Not worth much, but great for nostalgia. 

I own the Marvel Comics movie adaptations of Star Wars. Mine are the 35¢ Reprint versions, worth very little. 

I also have the rerelease of these by Dark Horse Comics. Despite being the same artwork, there is one huge difference I noticed–the lightsaber coloring. 

In the originals, both Luke’s and Ben’s lightsabers were red. 

In the rerelease, they are the proper color–blue. As far as I can tell, all else is the same aside from more vibrant colors and higher quality paper stock. 

I also have a smaller Marvel comic in black and white, presumably the template for the color versions. 

Retro, Retro – Metropolis

Posted: 21 September 2014 in Information, Movies, Music, Retro

Just finished watching the 1984 Giorgio Moroder version of Fritz Lang’s 1927 futuristic dystopian classic “Metropolis”.  I had seen the original years ago, but never the 1984 Moroder version.  I have to admit, I quite enjoyed the 80s soundtrack – a double dose of retro – though the version was panned by many critics.  I’ve always enjoyed Moroder’s work, especially his movie soundtracks — Scarface, Midnight Express, Electric Dreams, Flashdance, Top Gun, just to name a few.

Many scenes from the original were lost over time, but have been rediscovered.  Moroder’s version from 1984 did an admirable job of reconstructing the film from what was available, but was still very incomplete.  According to Wikipedia the run times are:  153 minutes (1927 premiere, lost); 82 minutes (1984 restoration); 118 minutes (2002 restoration); and 148 minutes (2010 restoration).  The 2010 restoration is the most complete to date after a 16mm negative was discovered in Argentina containing footage previously thought lost forever.

I ran across this the other day and wanted to repost it.

Making a C64/C65 compatible computer in an FPGA

It’s a project by Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen to develop a Commodore 64 / Commodore 65 compatible system in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). There have been other similar projects for the Commodore 64, but not a hardware version of the Commodore 65 (a successor to the C64, but was unreleased to the mass market, with only a few of the prototypes being sold) that I know of.

What I like about this is that Dr. Gardner-Stephen (in his own words) “purposely used an off-the-shelf FPGA board, so no one has to wait for a PCB production run. Just buy yourself a Nexys4 board and get a spare SD card 2GB or less in size.”

Specs for the board are here (on the Digilent website – not an advertisement, just the first site I ran across).

I’m looking forward to seeing a completed version of a hardware (FPGA) Commodore 64.


VNC ViewerScreenSnapz009

I’m currently reading (actually listening to the audio book) Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and it reminded me of “Nightfall”, one of his short stories. It also reminded me of Robert Reed’s short story “Night Calls”, which apparently pays homage to “Nightfall”. I read Reed’s story in Asimov Magazine a couple of times, but didn’t really get the point of it. I thought the author would appreciate an inquiry, so I sent this to him:

Hi Bob,

I read “Night Calls” a while back (twice actually) in Asimov’s, and I’m hesitant to ask this because I’m probably missing the obvious, but could you explain to me what it was about? I’m sure there’s something deeper, but I just didn’t get it.

Thanks (and I hope I’m not coming across as implying something was wrong with the story).


I was quite surprised when I got the following snarky reply:

Hello Kevin,

Nope, I’m not helping. You’re on your own.


Bob R.

Not sure what his problem was. My reply:

I thought you’d appreciate the inquiry. You didn’t have to be a d*** about it even if you do think it’s beneath you to explain what it was about. Sorry I f****** asked.

Probably not very professional of me I know, but I included my response in this post in the spirit of full disclosure. I’m sure Reed and/or his fans will have issue with my comments regarding his attitude, but I dont care. It was rude and uncalled for.


The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition doesn’t officially open until July, but in the meantime check out their new website. Going on 20 years now, IFComp is (according to their website):

The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition doesn’t officially open until July, but in the meantime check out their new website. Going on 20 years now, IFComp is (according to their website):

The Interactive Fiction Competition is an annual event begun by passionate hobbyists in 1995 to encourage both the creation and the discussion of new interactive fiction works (also known as IF). While the definition of IF has evolved in the years since then, the IFComp’s format and schedule have remained stable since the 1990s. Anyone can judge the entries on a one-to-ten scale, and the laurels go to the entries receiving the best average rating.

Inform 7, an interactive fiction authoring language/suite, has a new release.


Eternal Memories Book Cover

Posted: 15 October 2013 in Information, News, Writing

Eternal Memories Cover

Cover for my upcoming anthology of previously published short stories, written with Thomas C. Johnson (together as Patrick Christian).


Posted: 31 October 2011 in Information, News, Writing

I recently discovered LaTeX, a typesetting program, while searching for book templates for Microsoft Word.  I began writing a retrocomputing book on the Commodore 64 using Word, but had a hard time formatting the text exactly like I wanted.  I search for various templates and even considered switching to a desktop publishing program, but nothing seemed to work.

I found a few articles on LaTeX.  The Wikipedia definition is:

LATEX (play /ˈltɛk//ˈltɛx//ˈlɑːtɛx/, or /ˈlɑːtɛk/) is a document markup language and document preparation system for the TEXtypesetting program. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as \LaTeX. The term LATEX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor used to write those documents. In order to create a document in LATEX, a .tex file must be created using some form of text editor. While most text editors can be used to create a LATEX document, a number of editors have been created specifically for working with LATEX.
LATEX is widely used in academia.[1][2] As a primary or intermediate format, e.g., translating DocBook and other XML-based formats toPDF, LATEX is used because of the high quality of typesetting achievable by TEX. The typesetting system offers programmable desktop publishing features and extensive facilities for automating most aspects of typesetting and desktop publishing, including numbering and cross-referencing, tables and figures, page layout and bibliographies.
LATEX is intended to provide a high-level language that accesses the power of TEX. LATEX essentially comprises a collection of TEXmacros and a program to process LATEX documents. Because the TEX formatting commands are very low-level, it is usually much simpler for end-users to use LATEX.
LATEX was originally written in the early 1980s by Leslie Lamport at SRI International.[3] It has become an important method for using TEX.[citation needed] The current version is LATEX2e (styled \LaTeXe).
As it is distributed under the terms of the LATEX Project Public License (LPPL), LATEX is free software.

This turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.  In a single lunch hour, I was able to produce a document in LaTeX formatted very similarly to what I wanted.

The official website for LaTeX is here:

It says:

LaTeX is a document preparation system for high-quality typesetting. It is most often used for medium-to-large technical or scientific documents but it can be used for almost any form of publishing.
LaTeX is not a word processor! Instead, LaTeX encourages authors not to worry too much about the appearance of their documents but to concentrate on getting the right content. 

Here are some chapter style examples from the Memoir Class (a package available for LaTeX):

The learning curve is a bit steep for LaTeX (at least for me).  I’d liken it to learning HTML.  You could learn the basics pretty quickly, but to be good at it will take some time and effort.  For me, this effort is worth it because the LaTeX system 1) produces professional-quality documents and 2) allows me to focus on writing rather than messing around with the formatting (a pitfall for procrastinators like me).  I’ve decided to move forward with my book using LaTeX.

There are some other attractive aspects to this system:

1.  LaTeX is available in a Mac distribution called MacTeX.  MacTeX contains (from the MacTeX Wiki):

MacTeX is the official release of the MacTeX Technical Working Group. A very Mac-like installation using the Apple installer, so the installation process will be very familiar to Mac users.
MacTeX includes the most recent official standard distribution of TeX Live (the modern TeX distribution standard of TUG) for the Mac, a front end, documentation and extras.
MacTeX 2010 was released 2010-09-08 and is approximately 1.6Gb [1] .
MacTeX 2008 was released 2008-09-01 and includes:

  • selected GUI Applications including:
  • TeX Live
  •  fonts in formats suitable for system-wide use:

Go to MacTeX to download.
See TeX Live for details of installation set-up and administration.

2.  Scrivener will export to LaTeX.  Scrivener is a Mac-based writing program (now also available for Windows).

Scrivener is payware, but it’s a paltry $45 (US) for an excellent software program.  (And no, I’m not a compensated endorser for Scrivener — it’s just something I have found useful).

Below is from the Literature and Latte website (the creators/sellers of Scrivener) and shows some of the features of Scrivener…


The cork notice-board is one of the writer’s most familiar organisational tools. Before Scrivener, though, the index cards were not connected to anything; any alterations made to the sequence of cards on the corkboard would have to be replicated manually in the draft. In Scrivener, every document is attached to a virtual index card onto which you can jot a synopsis; moving the cards on Scrivener’s corkboard rearranges their associated text in your draft. Mark common themes or content using labels; stack cards, grouping related documents together; or place cards anywhere on the board using freeform mode. Scrivener’s corkboard gives you all the flexibility of a real notice-board while automatically reflecting any changes you make in your manuscript.


Prefer a more traditional planning environment? View and edit the synopses and meta-data of your documents in Scrivener’s powerful outliner. Organise your ideas using as many or few levels as you want and drag and drop to restructure your work. Check word counts, see what’s left to do using the Status column and create custom columns to store any information you need. Scrivener’s outliner is easy on the eyes, too, making it ideal for reading and revising an overview of a section, chapter or even the whole draft.


Scrivener’s innovative “Scrivenings” mode allows you to move smoothly between editing your document one piece at a time or together as a whole. It’s up to you how small—or large—you want to make the individual sections of your manuscript: novelists can write each scene in a separate document or whole chapters as one; scriptwriters can work scene-by-scene or act-by-act; academics can break down their ideas into individual arguments. However finely you break up your work, Scrivenings mode allows you to collect the constituent components into a single editor, so that you can edit them as though they were all part of one document: in Scrivener, you’re only ever a click away from seeing the forest or the trees.

Text Editing

Who said WYSIWYG is always best?

Scrivener provides access to all the features of the OS X text system: add tables, bullet points and images and format your text however you want using the format bar at the top of the page. Add footnotes and comments in the inspector and choose how they should be laid out when you export or print. Enter page layout view to see your words on virtual pages, which can be set up to mimic your printer settings or the pages of a book. And because the font and style you find most comfortable for writing and editing may not be the same as those required in your final document, Scrivener’s advanced Compile settings optionally allow you to print or export your work in a completely different format.

Tools for Writing Non-Fiction

MathType equationsScrivener isn’t just for writing novels and other forms of fiction. You will find a number of useful academic templates for writing papers, essays, and dissertations in common style formats, including Chicago style essay format, APA & MLA papers, Undergraduate Humanities essay format, as well as general non-fiction, technical writing and research proposals. Integrate your preferred bibliography management software into Scrivener’s menu system for easy on-demand access to your library of references. Using MultiMarkdown, you can create LaTeX documents with a great degree of flexibility. As of version 2.1, you can include beautifully typeset editable MathType equations in your work. Those working with gigantic libraries of reference material in PDF and other formats will appreciate the ability to link to original files rather than importing them into the project, giving you the best of both worlds: Scrivener’s built-in split viewing and full Binder organisation, without the overhead of storing gigabytes of research data in your projects.
Watch the MathType video ●


Draft the next blockbuster

While Scrivener is not intended to replace dedicated screenplay software, its familiar scriptwriting features make formatting a script straightforward. So you can draft your script inside Scrivener using the unique research and structural tools and then export it to industry-standard scriptwriting software such as Final Draft. And because you can mix up script formatting with regular text, it makes writing treatments easier than ever.

Statistics and Targets

A live word and character count of the current section is always in view at the bottom of the screen, and you can set a word or character count target for each section. For a wider perspective, though, Scrivener’s Project Statistics panel allows you to check the word, character and page counts of your manuscript so far, and the Project Targets let you set the number of words, characters or pages you aim to achieve for the whole draft or just for the current session. Call up the targets panel to see your progress reflected in the coloured bars as you write.


Never be afraid to make mistakes. Scrivener’s “snapshot” feature makes it easy to return to an earlier version of your text. Before embarking on a major edit, take a snapshot and you’ll be able to return to the current version any time you want. Not sure about the changes you’ve made? Just call up your snapshots in the inspector to compare previous edits or restore an older version of the text.
Watch the video ●

Full Screen—Evolved

Because sometimes you want to blank out the rest of the world while you write—or at least the rest of the screen. One click in Scrivener’s toolbar and you can leave the rest of your desktop behind. Fade the background in and out, choose the width of the “paper” and get writing. Prefer an old-school green-text-on-black look or your favourite countryside scene as a backdrop? No problem. Flexible preferences mean you can set up the full-screen mode as you please. Change documents, refer to your notes, apply keywords—or most importantly, just write—in one of the most beautiful distraction-free modes available.

I’ve used Scrivner to author several short stories and I’m using it for my novel.  Now, I can use it to write my retro book also.

Within Scrivener, some of the formatting for LaTeX can be passed via Multimarkdown.

The Multimarkdown website at defines it as:

What is MultiMarkdown?
MultiMarkdown, or MMD, is a tool to help turn minimally marked-up plain text into well formatted documents, including HTML, PDF (by way of LaTeX),OPML, or OpenDocument (specifically, Flat OpenDocument or ‘.fodt’, which can in turn be converted into RTF, Microsoft Word, or virtually any other word-processing format).
MMD is a superset of the Markdown syntax, originally created by John Gruber. It adds multiple syntax features (tables, footnotes, and citations, to name a few), in addition to the various output formats listed above (Markdown only creates HTML). Additionally, it builds in “smart” typography for various languages (proper left- and right-sided quotes, for example).

3.  LaTeX is free.

Although Scrivener is payware, everything else I mentioned here is free — LaTeX (MacTeX distribution) and MMD3 (Scrivener ships with MMD2, but MMD3 can be installed so that Scrivener “sees” it).

I plan to document my journey into learning LaTeX / MMD / Scrivener as I write my book.  So far, I’ve been really pleased with the results I’ve obtained with the workflow, but it will be some time before I really learn how to use LaTeX to its fullest and ultimately format my book with it.

More to follow…