5 June 2016

More of life.

Yes, I know it's been a while since I last posted anything. These apologies are beginning to become something of a tradition in my posts, aren't they? Oh well. I'm not sorry. I'm just crap at getting round to it.


I'm getting on well with the follow-up to Journeyman, and I even have a title in mind for it. It might seem a little more comical than the tone of the book is seeming at the moment, but personally I don't mind that, as there are elements of comedy in even the darkest and heaviest of times. Even if that's just life laughing at you.

The draft of the book is two-thirds done; I've made progress a little slower on this one than on the last one, but in my defence life has been happening - and I've been looking after Journeyman too, which has sold coming up for nine hundred copies on the Kindle now. I've got to say, it's done a lot better than I expected it to, but I know this is only the beginning. I'm back into writing to agents, and am hoping someone will pick me up for it at some point (obviously...). In the meantime, just get on with Part II.

I'm also having some other (unrelated) ideas that could turn out to be fun: some silly political satire idea fell into my head the week before, and I've been scribbling about that a little, and I'm hoping to get on with NaNoWriMo in November. That's in spite of whatever I might be working on by that point: I'm gonna get it done.

Autism and Mental Health

It turned out, following an appointment I had in March, that I'm not just dyslexic, dyspraxic, and dyscalculic - I'm also an Asperger. This does not surprise me (or anyone who knows me).

The funny thing is that, looking all the way back through my school records to when I was four, it was obvious that I am autistic. I wasn't interested in "social graces" as they were described, and I worked far better on my own than in a team. I also was prone to tantrums when things changed without reasonable explanation, and showed incredible aptitude in specific areas. So how, I ask myself, was I not flagged as a primary school child?

Probably because autism was a thing people thought a prodigy couldn't have. 'He's intelligent, he can't be autistic.'

It was similar in secondary school, of course, though by this point people were starting to wonder if I was autistic. They even had an educational psychologist come and see me - and she decided I wasn't autistic, just a disruptive problem child (with a high IQ... umm).

This caused me a lot of years of mental health issues, from being a small child to now, pretty much. It precluded me making friends through almost all my childhood and youth, such that I was knocking on twenty's door by the time I made any friends worth keeping (which I did). I have depression and anxiety, which before were linked to a troublesome past and broken brain chemistry, which has now been proven to - actually - be caused by nothing more or less than my frustration at having had no identity of my own and a limited ability to communicate.

I'm not going to drive on about that. I'm over it, and I'm over myself. Ultimately, while there are things I would do differently with my own children (chiefly to not send them to school), I wouldn't change a moment of my past; it's made me who I am, and for what it's worth, I'm proud of who I've grown up to be.

Little Tablet

For a little bit of fun, I bought one of those £25 Allwinner Q88 tablets, after reading some very mixed reviews of them, and now I've been playing with it for a week or two, I'm happy giving a little review of my own.


The first thing anyone's likely to notice with one of these is that the displays aren't very good. They're not - though the touch panels work really surprisingly well. The colours have a very low saturation level which can't (apparently) be changed, and the backlight is quite bright, which makes everything look slightly washed out. It's good enough to watch something on or play a simple game, but that's about it. Don't expect HD, kids.


It's not fast. It's just not. There's nothing more I can say about it.


512MB of memory is enough to do most things you might want to do on a tablet, speaking realistically. I can play Minecraft or Plants vs Zombies on it, I can listen to music or watch something, and I can run Word and tap away (even though Word says I need at least a gig). In this area I'd say (despite what others say) that it's perfectly good and useable.

Storage is another matter, however. Being a cheap SoC means that it's the same as other cheap Android systems, in that the internal storage is partitioned into "internal storage" and "expanded storage." What this means, practically speaking, is that while there's 8GB of storage in there, I can only install, say, 800MB's worth of apps. Not a huge bummer, I guess, though it would be nice to be able to put some more on. 'But you can move apps to the expanded/SD storage,' I can hear you holler. Yes, but it only moves the app's data, not the core of it. So I can't put the Final Fantasy games on it that I paid such a lot of money for a few years back. But that's OK, I'm thinking I might get a Nexus for that at some point.


It comes with Android 4.4.1 (ICS, I think) in ROM, which is pretty much what you'd expect when you're buying a cheapie. What I didn't expect, however, is that there was no bloatware at all installed on it when I got it. No knock-off games or Netflix/Facebook/Twitter clients like there have been on other tablets I've had in the past. Just a straight-up Android distribution with enough to get started. That genuinely impressed me a lot. The software that does come with it consists mainly of a little video player/picture viewer and a little music player - both generic, both tiny, both just get the bloody job done. Impressed.


It's not bad. It's a £25 tablet - you're not going to get a Nexus, a Surface, or an iPad for that money. It's a cheap Chinese generic tablet with the OS in ROM and a plastic screen, but d'you know what? If you're looking for something mess about with, maybe some light gaming or something to pacify the kids or whatever, I'd recommend it. Hey, even if you just want an oversized mp3 player.

Speaking of mp3 players, I ordered one from AliExpress, for the princely sum of 83p. That's less than the price of a drink in a café. It (apparently) includes nothing at all - not even storage. It charges by USB, and reads micro-SD cards, which leads me to think there must just be a ROM in there with an mp3 codec on it. We'll see how it performs when it arrives.


I need more books, a coffee, and a hug. In the meantime I'll look forward to going to see the Rocky Horror Show live in early October.

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