it’s harder than it looks

the last time i published regularly, it was easy to crank issues out. since they were gaming newsletters (aka “zeens”), the game results took up the bulk of the pages and they tended to more or less write themselves. there was also the self-imposed pressure of getting each issue in the monday mail following the saturday deadline. players needed the reliability of knowing when their results were coming out for the next round of negotiations! needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of sleeping (or anything non-publication-related) on deadline weekend.

for the early years of the main gaming zeen i had access to office copiers, so could crank out the roughly seventy copies x thirty page issues on a late sunday night run for the cost of a couple reams of copy paper. when i went back to school kinkos became the go to production facility (better quality, less work for me, occasional printing snafus, more expensive), eventually leading up to me getting a copier of my own (a minolta from a local pawn shop auction. convenient, good quality, able to do 11×17 pages, broke down a lot). there was even a seriously retro period using a ditto machine (colorful, cheap, but not versatile).

but the constant through all the years was getting the printed pages home, collating them, folding & stapling, hand-addressing and stamping (always upside down!), then stuffing them into a big blue mailbox, usually wrapping up around dawn on monday.

good thing i’ve always been able to function at least semi-coherently despite chronic sleep deprivation.

it’s different now. now it’s tough actually getting to the point where i can hit the “publish” button and be happy with it. there’s no deadline pressure to keep me moving. i’ve basically sat on this almost-finished episode for almost two weeks now and…just…can’t…finish…it.

ah, well. gotta take this step in order to get to the next one, eh? there, it’s done! i do hope it gets easier though.



me & steve

(here’s a little something i wrote a few years back. it’s still relevant, so after some minor updating here it is (again))

unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that steve jobs died this week. [well, that was true in 2011 when i originally wrote this]

which got me to thinking, since steve and i go waaaay back.

back when i was in high school, i got a summer job working with some of the very early ibm mini computers. it was a dreadful experience – they were as big as a desk, the display was 8 lines x 40 characters and i spent most of my “work” time swapping floppy disks in and out of the machine since they didn’t have hard drive storage the way we do today. the programs were written by the team in iowa, the manuals by the team in florida, and the hardware by the team in texas – and they never talked to each other. what few things actually worked were never simple or reliable. i swore i would never go into this stupid computer business.

fast forward a few years to 1984…i’d gotten an atari 800 because i liked to play games (ms pac man! qix! right there on my own tv – i’ll save a fortune in quarters!), so thought i’d check out this new macintosh thing that was just coming out. i went in to the local store, took a look at a mac, fired up macpaint…and it was all over. this was a completely different experience. i had to have one – my excuse was that i was publishing a newsletter at the time and it’d be perfect for that, but it was so cool i would have gotten one anyways. i talked the dealer into a 2% discount (which he was loath to give me), grabbed my mac (complete with habadex – a rolodex program and one of the very few applications available at the time) and rode off into the sunset.

i’ve had a mac of some kind ever since then, i think i’m on my eighth one now. they’ve mostly been apples, but two of the power computing clones snuck in there too. i got over the hatred of computers and went back to school to get a comp sci degree (or two) and went into the software field. now, thirty years later i’m still at it.

if steve hadn’t flown the pirate flag over the mac building at apple hq and come out with something insanely great and had the stubbornness to see his project through, no telling what i’d be doing today. but i can pretty much guarantee i wouldn’t be where i am now (wherever that is!). so thanks steve, it’s been a pretty good ride (so far).