Archive for May 4th, 2009

An idea for a computer product

What I would like is a screen saver that, when you sit down at the computer, will not unlock until you answer the question “What did you come to the computer to do?” and then displays that answer prominently but not obnoxiously on the screen (perhaps in a floating or semi-transparent window) until dismissed. Perhaps to dismiss it you would have to type in some text indicating what you had done about the whatever-it-was. Perhaps the prompt and the reply would be recorded, time-stamped, in a log file.

This is intended to address the problem of going to the computer and getting sucked in by LiveJournal or Facebook or Twitter or such for an hour before you realize you didn’t even do the simple five-minute thing you went to the computer to do.

Does this exist (for the Mac, please)? Or do any of you have the skillz to write it?

(Yes, it could be overridden by typing gibberish, and after using the thing for a while one would probably get in the habit of doing so. It’s as hard to outsmart oneself as it is to tickle oneself. But one must try…)

Getting up and doing something else now.

“Firewall” in Chinese

A while ago I learned that my story “Firewall” (the link goes to the complete story at Baen Books’ WebScription.Net) had been translated into Chinese, without authorization or payment, by the magazine SF King. I tracked down an email for them and sent a request for author copies, at least. Well, the other day a very battered package arrived from China containing five copies of the magazine.

I have to say that, even though it’s pirated and all, I’m really happy with it. I don’t know SF King‘s readership but even if it’s a minor Chinese magazine it probably has many times the readers of F&SF or Asimov’s. It’s a quality magazine, my story is second on the cover, and it’s got five lovely illustrations (three of them are below, click to embiggen).


I love seeing foreign illustrations of my own stuff. The illos are always apropos, definitely representing images from my story, and yet they are characteristic of the translator’s country (for example, the version of Walker in the illustrations of the Polish translation of “Tk’Tk’Tk” looks Polish to me). In this case, as usual, the characters are nothing like I’d pictured them but totally like themselves. Although they are kind of anime versions of themselves. Which is very cool.

If anyone reading this reads Chinese, I’d be happy to send you scans of the whole story (25MB of JPGs). It has footnotes, and I would love to know what they say!