Friday, February 24, 2023

Comic Cuts — 24 February 2023

You won't notice any difference, but I am writing this on my laptop for the first time. While we were getting the various programmes downloaded and working with Windows 11, not always the easiest thing, I have continued to use my PC. But I'm trying to wean myself off the old system, which isn't easy after so many years. I have had the same monitor for at least fifteen years, and the same keyboard for as long... the lettering has worn away on so many keys that it's unusable to anyone but a touch typist.

Just getting used to the new keyboard is taking some time. It's slimmer, doesn't require the same amount of weight and there's no number pad on the side. I can no longer use Alt 0151 to create an em dashone of the finest tools in a writers vocabulary. I use them a lot, probably because I grew up reading British weekly adventure comics and there were a lot of sentences that ended suddenly with a !

I haven't been able to find a keyboard shortcut that will insert one: Microsoft Word will automatically turn two dashes (--) into an em dash (—), but I can't find a method to create them in Thunderbird (which I use for email) nor for Blogger (which is where I'm writing this). I always used Alt 0151 when I needed one.

The situation is only temporary, as my plan is to plug in (or wirelessly link with Bluetooth) a normal keyboard as soon as possible. Once I have that number pad back, it'll be em dashes every other sentence!

You may be thinking that migrating to the laptop is taking forever... it certainly feels like it some days. The problem is that I am limited by my knowledge of computers and needed help to get things started. Now that my email (for instance) is working, I have been able to sort out a few things on my own. On Tuesday I spent the morning trying to get my scanner
I think I got in around October 2005, which means it will be able to legally drink in six months time—to work with an up-to-date Windows 11 operating system.

It took an enquiry to the Epson support team in the States to help with the problem when the preview panel disappeared. Actually, their help didn't... help, that is. But I fumbled towards a solution and have produced some scans that I can use. The one problem I haven't resolved is orientation—the scans are coming out turned 90 degrees clockwise and I'm not sure how I can get them to scan portrait rather than landscape. I'll have another bash at resolving that one later.

Again, if it seems like I'm moving at the speed of a tortoise over solving these problems, it's because I'm still trying to keep up with work. I have finished two books this year so far and have the artwork for another two scanned, both of which need to be finished in the next six weeks. I was also trying to update an old Forgotten Authors essay as I was contacted by a relative who added a lot to my knowledge of an obscure author, including some ghost writing for a once popular writer of secret service thrillers. I'm still trying to figure out who wrote what, but I'll let you know the results as soon as I have everything figured out... I've had to buy a couple of books for reference. I'm trying not to fill up the house again, and one of the two I bought on Kindle. Never bought a Kindle book before. This could be a slippery slope.

I'm hoping that Bear Alley will have another book out soon, a project dating back to 2008
—another example of me moving at glacial speed. At the time I was experimenting with print on demand services and a friend had scanned and OCRd an old penny dreadful. I turned it into a book, which I was very pleased with and thought deserved to be more widely seen. But I've just never had the time to proof the text, which was full of OCR errors. I have roped Mel into helping, so the text should be error free; and I need to revise the author biography I attached to it as I know a bit more than I did 15 years ago... but hopefully we'll have that out in the spring and I can start looking at the next comic reprint.

I have my eyes on reprinting some Jesus Blasco. How's that for a tease?

(* Yes, these are the scans I mentioned... a few books I have picked up around town this week, including a William Gibson I already have, although in a different edition, and a book new to me by an author new to me... apparently HB Lyle's 'irregular' spy thriller features the Baker Street Irregulars, which was enough to intrigue me. The Bradbury I remember having a copy of back in my younger days, but it disappeared when I culled my SF collection in the early 2000s. The Tracing the History of Your House is from the Public Records Office and I sometimes find some useful tools in these kind of books that I can use to discover more about book and comic creators.)

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