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New Video I Worked On: 3D Scanning Best Practices

My colleagues at Occipital and I put together this tutorial video for customers of our Canvas home scanning application. I wrote the script and did the voiceover. My co-worker Karla Estrada shot, edited, and starred.

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Zen Writing Mode on GitHub

Github has added a new “Zen mode” button to all text areas on the site, the clicking of which will grow the writing area to the full window size, hiding the rest of the page, so you can focus on writing without distractions.

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Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

I’m a complete sucker for Vonnegut.

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SEO for Non-dicks

Matt Gemmell:

I fully acknowledge the value of, and need for, actual SEO; I just think that in many cases, the tactics employed under that title would better be described as Search Engine Manipulation or even Abuse.

A post full of sound advice. Dirty SEO is one of the lamest things I see smart companies do.

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H. P. Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book

From Bruce Sterling’s blog. This list has been floating around for awhile but I enjoyed revisiting in. If you found one of my notebooks it reads pretty similarly, but with more random smatterings of dialogue in search of a conversation.

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“Writing on the high seas”

Author Tobias Buckell’s treatise on book piracy and what it means here in the now:

A certain book that usually sells about 5,000 copies, locked down and protected, seems to sell the same 5,000 copies as a book with a free giveaway and pirated. The difference, according to O’Reilly and many, will be that the second author sees a 5,000 copies sold book, and 5,000 downloads and wonders “why, I should really have had 10,000 sales!” But the truth might be more like, 5,000 people purchased each, and one of them got 5,000 additional reads.

Most of this analysis seems like it should fall under the rubric of “common sense,” but there’s obviously a pretty big lack of that in the traditional publishing channels right now. Some people will read your stuff, some people will pay you, and the best you can hope for is enough people fall into the second category that you can pay your bills.

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Writing better dialogue

The fourth in a series of “Scriptcasts” by the screenwriter John August. I find that John’s advice in screenwriting applies to writing for the web, as well.

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Terry Pratchett on Doctor Who

Terry, who as he says himself was “there at the beginning”:

The unexpected, unadvertised solution which kisses it all better is known as a deus ex machina – literally, a god from the machine. And a god from the machine is what the Doctor now is. A decent detective story provides you with enough tantalising information to allow you to make a stab at a solution before the famous detective struts his stuff in the library. Doctor Who replaces this with speed, fast talking, and what appears to be that wonderful element “makeitupasyougalongeum”.

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Kurt Vonnegut at the Blackboard

KVJ on story structure, Hamlet, Cinderella, and Kafka:

But there’s a reason we recognize Hamlet as a masterpiece: it’s that Shakespeare told us the truth, and people so rarely tell us the truth in this rise and fall here [indicates blackboard]. The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.

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David Mamet’s Editorial Notes To Writers of “The Unit”

Written, as one might hope, in all-caps, laced with profanity, and peppered with utter contempt for network executives. Delicious, and mostly good advice. A sample:

ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.

Amen.

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The Details Are Everything

A new tumblr created by Me, available from now: The Details Are Everything, sifting the user interfaces and experiences I come into contact with in daily life. It is A) An excuse to write more about semi-work-involved things and B) something I’ve been threatening to do for long enough that I needed to either start it, or shut up.

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“Quit trying to make pigs out of sausage.”

This way of thinking about writing jibes with a lot of how I think about web development. Especially:

When you’re ready, dive into a blank page and start making a big mess in order to find out what you really think

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Batman: The Animated Series Writer’s Bible

Brought you by the magic of the internet (PDF). Of personal interest to me:

NO STORIES ABOUT BATMAN’S ORIGIN

If only Hollywood would’ve listened. The document itself is full of reasons why Batman: TAS is still the best Batman-related media outside of the comics-sphere, but the above rings truest to me.

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It’s The Same Here, Too

At least half of all writing involves just sitting and staring into space. Letting your brain out to hunt down ideas, bringing them back all warm and bloody between its teeth.

Warren Ellis, on his mailing list BAD SIGNAL

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How the Web and the Weblog have Changed Writing

Philip Greenspun:

Our literary culture is impoverished when every idea is stretched or amputated to fit the Procrustean bed made up by magazine and book publishers. When an author runs out of relevant stuff to say after 20 or 30 pages, that’s how long the essay should be.

Quoting the same passage that Gruber did, but fuck it. Bravo, Philip.

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Free as in “Me”

I cannot think of a recent read more essential than this lengthy polemic by Merlin Mann. I’d post an excerpt, but it wouldn’t do justice to the thing. Just read it.