We are live on a new server!

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Wed Dec 5 17:07:53 2012.

A bunch of stuff from the old jeremyreimer.com still hasn’t been transferred over yet, but the main blog is (hopefully) working!

This new server is actually an Amazon EC2 instance I’m trying out. Yes, jeremyreimer.com is going into the cloud. Will we ever escape it? Who knows?

Further exciting updates as they come in!

Views: 3132  Comments: 5

The Pegasus Carrier

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Wed Nov 14 16:00:21 2012.

This is a rendering of the Pegasus Carrier that I did in 3D Studio Max. This is the main ship in my Masters Trilogy of science-fiction novels.



Here’s the view from underneath. You can see the massive heat shield that dominates the underside of the ship. This is necessary for the ship to survive the jump into hyperspace, which takes place close to the surface of a star.

Views: 3432  Comments: 4

The return of Wing Commander?

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Wed Oct 17 13:40:40 2012.

I just saw this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlIWJlz6-Eg&feature=youtube_gdata_player

and I was like this:

Views: 3469  Comments: 6

So what did I do this summer?

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Thu Sep 20 10:34:48 2012.

Oh, not much.

Just commanded the Starship Enterprise.



This was taken at the PNE. My wife is handling Riker’s duties (she didn’t want to be Counsellor Troi-- who does?) and my brother-in-law is ably manning the science station. Or maybe it’s the weapons station. Or the security station. Well, it’s whatever the script needs it to be, okay?

This was part of the awesome Star Trek exhibit. It’s a full-size replica of the original bridge set, which was destroyed in the disappointing Generations movie. I also got to sit in Kirk’s original chair, which was pretty awesome.

EDIT: Okay here’s a pic of me in Kirk’s chair.



EDIT AGAIN: And here’s the NCC-1701D’s transporter room:

Views: 4581  Comments: 3

How to make a great book cover for free

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Thu Aug 30 11:56:38 2012.

We are all told: "Don’t judge a book by its cover". Unfortunately, this is just another of the many lies that people propagate. Books ARE judged by their covers, and this is one area where independent authors are at a disadvantage compared to traditional publishers. Sure, it would be great to contract out to a real artist or graphic designer to make a stunning cover (and certainly better in the long run than letting a publisher do so in exchange for taking more of your royalty forever) but what if you don’t have the money? What if you are just starting out?

Well, it turns out that if you are short on money, there are actually lots of great tools that will let you produce a stunning book cover for free.

Start with a pencil sketch


Pen and pencil are as near to free as can be, and even in today’s digital age they are still an effective way to quickly sketch out a number of ideas. For my second novel, Heart of the Maelstrom, I had an idea of two figures in spacesuits looking out at an image of the Milky Way galaxy rising over a rocky landscape on a distant planet. The idea is one thing, but sketching it out makes it clear how it will come together. You can make a whole bunch of these sketches really quickly and refine them until you get what you want.



Need a landscape?


There is a great application called Terragen that creates some stunning landscapes. The full version is $299, but there is a free demo version you can use to check it out. The free version is limited to 800x600 pixel rendering output, and has some other restrictions. Alternatively, you can check out some free and open source landscape generators. If you don’t care about having an artificial landscape, you could check out Flickr for some free background images that are licensed for commercial use.



Free 3D models


I needed an astronaut model in a spacesuit for my cover, but many sites offer only expensive paid models. NASA, however, had a page full of free models of all their satellites and space suits. I chose the Advanced Crew Escape Suite (ACES) which fit my story perfectly.



Free 3D rendering software


I have an old copy of 3D Studio Max from when I took an animation class, but there are free alternatives out there. One of the most popular is Blender, which has been used to make some stunning images and movies. Yes, Blender is a bit harder to learn than some commercial 3D packages, but remember, we are working from the assumption that we have little money to spare. If you have little money, you can use your own time instead.

Putting it all together


You need some 2D compositing software to put everything together and make it look good. One of the best free programs to do this is Paint.net, which does everything you need, including layers, lighting, filters, text, and so forth.

Many independent authors get the fonts wrong. The most common mistake is making either the title or the author’s name too large. There should be some whitespace around the title, and it is best to choose a font that isn’t too "thick" or fat. There are lots of free fonts out there. Choose something that is simple and not too fancy, but that isn’t Times New Roman or Arial. You don’t need to put your name in giant letters, either. Publishers selling books by famous authors sometimes do this for marketing purposes, but you aren’t there just yet. Keep your title larger than your name. If the text is hard to make out against the background, some judicious use of drop shadows can help.

For science-fiction titles, the Hubble photos are the best source for high-quality imagery, and they are free for the world to use. I took an image of a barred spiral galaxy as a stand-in for the Milky Way (which is also a barred spiral) and found a deep-field image to use as the
background.

In the end, hopefully you have a great-looking cover image that you made for free or close to free! This is the end result for my upcoming novel Heart of the Maelstrom, the second book in the Master’s trilogy. Good luck!

Views: 4197 

Stop pretending blogs are made of paper

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Fri Aug 17 20:03:38 2012.

Here’s my pet peeve of the day: Blogs that say things like: "Find out the answer after the fold" or "More after the jump".

YOU ARE A WEB PAGE. THERE IS NO FOLD. THERE IS NO JUMP. If I want to continue reading, I will continue reading. Maybe I’ll have to scroll down. If I care enough, I will. I’ve never once gone to a blog and thought to myself: "Well, this wasn’t interesting enough to keep reading, but I have to find out what’s after that jump!" What the hell is a jump, anyway?

Oh, you put a stupid ad to break up your content? Is that what you meant? Wow, I’ve almost lost interest in your page now. Oh look, there’s the "Close" button on the tab. I wonder what happens if I press that?

Views: 3471  Comments: 1

My article on computer/phone/tablet marketshare is up on Ars Technica!

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Tue Aug 14 20:24:20 2012.



It’s hard to believe the last time I did one of these articles was 2005, and since then not one but TWO new product categories have been introduced to the world.

I’m pretty happy with the way this article turned out, which is pretty much exactly how I wanted it: a nostalgia trip for the personal computer industry and a comparison with the new smartphone and tablet world.

Oh, here’s the link:

http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/08/from-altair-to-ipad-35-years-of-personal-computer-market-share/

Views: 3679 

It was thirty years ago today...

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Mon Aug 13 11:05:14 2012.

August 13, 1982. A young, precocious ten year-old boy finally convinces his family to let him tape record the evening meal.

Thirty years later, a much older boy finds the tape in a closet and decides to try and preserve long-lost family memories. (Digitizing and cleaning up the audio was an interesting process, and I’ll blog about that later).

I was a bit of a twit back in those days, a bit of a know-it-all, and I liked to interrupt people a lot. I think a lot of it was being ten, and the rest of it was due to my excitement at finally being able to record dinner. It was kind of a like a very early podcast!

Hearing my mom and dad’s voices again is very bittersweet, but I also laughed a lot. Check out the coffee grinder at 26 minutes in!

You can read more about the "Flying Bandit" that my dad referred to (and once met) here:http://thiswaswinnipeg.blogspot.ca/2008/07/flying-bandit.html

Direct download link for iPhones and iPads








Views: 3423 

NASA Curiosity rover lands on Mars!

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Sun Aug 5 22:52:16 2012.



Views: 3331  Comments: 1

Knotty Geeks Episode 17 - Where are the flying cars?

Posted by: Jeremy Reimer on Sat Jul 21 08:44:49 2012.

In a special Knotty Geeks recorded deep inside the new Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University, we look at our accelerating world and ask if technology is really progressing in all areas or are we sliding backwards in some? From flying cars to asteroid mining, what does the future really hold?

Links from the show:

Ray Kurzweil on acceleration:http://www.amazon.com/The-Singularity-Is-Near-Transcend/dp/0670033847

Ronald Reagan declared GPS should be free to everyone:http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2006/February/20060203125928lcnirellep0.5061609.html

Flame virus:http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/05/spy-malware-infecting-iranian-networks-is-engineering-marvel-to-behold/

Where are the flying cars?http://www.thebaffler.com/past/of_flying_cars

You are not so smart:http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Not-So-Smart/dp/1592406599

This will make you smarter:http://www.amazon.com/This-Will-Make-You-Smarter/dp/0062109391








Views: 3236 






About me

I'm a writer and a web developer. You may have read my articles at Ars Technica, where I write about the Amiga computer, video games such Starcraft, and the history of personal computing.

I write science fiction novels and short stories. You can read more about them here.

I'm also the creator of the rapid application development framework newLISP on Rockets, which powers this blog and a number of other sites.

I do a podcast with my friend Terry Palfrey called Knotty Geeks, where we focus on the 'big picture' impact of technology on our lives, with the two core themes being acceleration and convergence.

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