Lots of Free Classic Science Fiction

This turned up in my feed over the weekend: Dig Into Nearly 30 Years of Free Classic Science Fiction, with a link at the bottom to Three decades of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine on Internet Archive. Wow! You can download pdf/epub or use their online book reader. I love classic SF and I’m just delighted to have these magazines to browse and download!

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Posted in Uncategorized

50 Hours of Happiness

This is just stunning: BBC has released 50 hours of video from Earth II which they’re calling a “visual soundscape” as part of their Real Happiness Project. Nature — even nature video — has been proven to increase happiness, so they’ve put together five 10 hour videos of nature and posted them on YouTube! You can click through to all videos from this Treehugger article and add the videos to your playlists (or create a massive 50 hr playlist)! As the heat of summer increases, actually spending any significant amount of time in nature becomes more difficult—but you can now pour a cold beverage and sink into breathtaking landscapes anywhere you may be. Enjoy!!!

TextPad

I saw this a week ago, and have found it enjoyable to use, though not as a note app. Textpad is a simple no-distraction in-browser writing app. I’ve found that adding it alongside my new tab browser start-up encourages me to start writing immediately. I find the whole “blank page” feel of it inspiring. (Also, I like that it has a light-on-dark option.) It’s neat and nifty. You might also find it useful, too. 🙂

Posted in For Readers, For Writers

Habitica: Quests and Parties

Setting off on a quest!
Setting off on a quest!

This is part of a series of posts I’m doing this week about my experiences using Habitica. See below for previous posts. I joined one of the guilds for writers immediately, but was such a newbie to the whole gaming thing…and didn’t really get the gaming aspects of the site until I’d been there a while and began to understand the advantages of the system, that I didn’t join a Party right away. Also, I wasn’t sure at first if I could meet my goals, and if the site would actually help me knock off my massive ever-growing Monster of a To Do list, so I wasn’t eager to jump into a Party and do Quests at first. I was just thinking of a writer’s group and I thought the guild would be enough. But I began to get the idea that Parties were the way to go; guild chat was less active than anticipated and didn’t have quite the writer’s group feel that I expected. I suspected it was because smaller parties had formed within the guild, and interesting things were happening in the privacy of party chat rather than guild chat.

Chat for guilds isn’t visible to the public in general, but anyone in Habitica can see and participate in guild chat, even if they weren’t members of the guild. I found it odd that the people most active in my guild’s chat were not members of the guild and that most of the people listed as members of the guild didn’t participate in chat. Which led me to the conclusion that most writer’s conversation was happening in Parties. Unlike guilds, there’s no site-wide list of parties. Some form up just for a quest and dissolve, some are made up of disparate members from assorted guilds and are unaffiliated with anyone, some are small groups of real life friends, some are large groups of strangers. My impression is that most people in the Ink Slinger’s writer’s guild are in parties with other writers (though I know that not all are). Since it seemed like a lot of people had joined around the same time I had and that at least some, like me, weren’t yet in parties, I talked to my guild leader, maryrobinette, (better known as author Mary Robinette Kowal) about it. She put together some tools for bringing together writers seeking a party and party leaders. (Habitica  has a forum for people looking to join a party, but most people in my guild were looking for a party of people within our writing guild.) “Science-fiction and fantasy writers and editors who are actively working in the field and trying to improve craft” can join the Ink Slingers Guild, then fill out a form about who you are, what you write, and what your playing style is within Habitica — and the form dumps the info into a spreadsheet for party leaders who are looking for fellow writers for their parties. 🙂

Eventually, with the help and encouragement of my guild leader, I “screwed my courage to the sticking place” and formed a party called, Everyday Magic and Spacetime Explorers, since we are a group of F/SF writers. We kicked butt on our first quest, which was a collection quest. Rewards were gold and experience, as well as the next scroll in the quest line. Boss quests are a bit more complicated since you can sustain damage from people in your party not making their Dailies, but otherwise questing seems to be fairly straightforward: you just keep doing the things you need to do: Dailies are done daily (or whatever day of the week you have them active for), Habits are done regularly and often, and you work on your To Do list. When questing, doing your tasks makes progress toward completing the quest. Quest rewards range from those mentioned above for newbie easy quests to special eggs which can be hatched into exotic pets and mounts. As I see it, Quests are basically a way to get more and better rewards, and level up faster, than if you’re just doing your thing alone getting random drops for tasks. Peer pressure and extra accountability are often cited as a factor in the success of party members, but I haven’t been in a party long enough to really say how much of a factor it is. I was doing really well before joining and you can’t improve on perfect days —but you can get more rewards for doing well if you’re on a quest….and quests can only happen in parties. Writing more and better is something I can always improve on, and Habitica  –and my awesome party of writers — may help with that. I recently posted this in party chat:

Goal: get rough draft of sequel cleaned up for beta readers before summer. Ask me a month from now how it’s going. If I give a whiny waffly answer threaten to sic your Beasts on me. 🙂

The best thing Habitica has done for me (so far) is to help tame my To-Do list, which expands and contracts — and until I joined Habitica it was never ever completely cleared off. I’ve cleared it off once and only have a few long term items on it now, along with short term items that are put on the list and completed within a day or two. In the past, sometimes my To Do list would grow so long that the idea of getting it all done just crushed me and made it even less likely that I’d get everything done in anything like a timely manner. Habitica has made the To Do list Monster less daunting and procrastination less likely because I get tiny little rewards for ticking off those boxes. Bigger tiny rewards when we’re questing, more tiny rewards when I do a challenge. It all adds up. It all adds up to more better writing and a better, more contented life.

If you’re looking for a productivity tool and you enjoy gaming, check out Habitica. If you’re trying to make changes in your life, but need support to make it happen, then check out Habitica. It’s a very supportive atmosphere and there are guilds and challenges that are aimed at all kinds of different goals, from breaking addictive habits, to doing household chores, to embarking on creative endeavors. And I’ve proved that even someone who isn’t into gaming can enjoy and benefit from Habitica. 🙂

I’m still a relative newbie, but these posts are my thoughts thus far. I’ll post occasional updates on my experiences with Habitica as I continue to progress and get even better at “game-i-fying” my life. 🙂

Below is the full series of posts. For my post of first impressions after I joined Habitica in fall 2015, see The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have With New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. The Enchanted Land of Habitica
  2.  Habitica: How I’m Playing the Game
  3.  Habitica: Linking Habits and Dailies
  4.  Habitica: Quests and Parties
Posted in For Readers, For Writers

Habitica: Linking Habits and Dailies

Yeah, I'm riding a Shade Flying Pig. Fierce!
Yeah, I’m riding a Shade Flying Pig. Fierce!

This is part of a series of posts I’m doing this week about my experiences using Habitica. See below for previous posts. The one single thing that I’ve discovered that helps in ticking off Habits and Dailies is to build up connections between them. I know that conventional wisdom is to change just one thing at a time, but sometimes a lone habit change is just too isolated from the other things you do to be able to survive on its own. I have a number of habits and dailies that I’ve tried out, some of my own, some as part of challenges. The trick is to set things up that support or facilitate doing other things in your list. For instance an item like “sitting quietly for 15 minutes with no distractions” or “daydreaming” can lead into a writing task. Ditto for “take a short walk”, which could also be a warm-up for more strenuous exercise…or a writing task because I find that a nice walk helps me think. 🙂 I’m doing the Writer’s Health Challenge in my guild and the “3 minute stretch break” Habit supports the “stretch wrists and neck” Daily. Not to mention, while taking that break I can “drink a glass of water” which is one of the challenges Habits. (Habits can be ticked off more than once a day, Dailies only once per day.)

If you set things up so that the habits you’re forming or already have support the things you need to do Daily and vice versa, then there’s a nice flow created and nothing seems as onerous. Something like “daydream”, “journaling”, “work on story” creates a natural flow. You might argue that time spent daydreaming or journaling is a waste of the all-too-precious time you have for writing, but the creative mind often needs an empty space and a fallow time to recharge itself, or to get mentally prepared for writing. Sometimes writing goes a lot faster and easier if you give yourself some breathing space between the loud fast over-stimulated multi-tasking things and your writing time.

Want to eat healthier? Add “eat a vegetable” to your Dailies. Put “Cook a meal” as a Habit or Daily. Grocery shopping could even work as a Habit or Daily because if you go more often, then you can buy fresh veggies more often, which are healthier than pre-packaged meals that you can buy in bulk once every week or two. And all those things are linked. If you eat a vegetable daily (specify a fresh, not canned, vegetable), then you will need to buy fresh veggies regularly…and fresh food is something you cook, not something pre-cooked that just needs warming up.

Habitica can help you make improvements in organizing your life, getting things done, and most importantly, developing the good habits you wished you had, but never quite manage consistently. Habitica really helps consistency. Linkages between habits are key. I’d never thought about it before, but once I started adding things, doing things, moving things from section to section, I could really see a pattern of mutually supporting actions.

In this post I looked at some Challenges (there are lots of self-improvement and productivity challenges in Habitica, as well as some that are just for fun) and how habits and dailies can be self-supporting. Tomorrow I’ll write a bit about Parties and Quests.

Below is the full series of posts. For my post of first impressions after I joined Habitica in fall 2015, see The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have With New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. The Enchanted Land of Habitica
  2.  Habitica: How I’m Playing the Game
  3.  Habitica: Linking Habits and Dailies
  4.  Habitica: Quests and Parties
Posted in For Readers, For Writers

Habitica: How I’m Playing the Game

2D94942332C021D81B5A721006354E7DThis is part of a series I’m doing on Habitica. See  below for previous posts. One thing I quickly noticed was how motivating the random drops were, and how my desire to hatch pets & get mounts grew as I got more drops of eggs, hatching potions, and food. Also, I didn’t get equipment at first; I didn’t see why I needed it if this was just a productivity tool. But then I did some research and realized how everything tied together. Ultimate gear meant higher stats…including Perception which increased the daily drop cap. Suddenly I was all about equipment, unallocated points allotment (which I’d set for manual rather than automatic because I didn’t want to automate something I initially had no understanding of). When I chose a class, I chose Mage because they leveled up faster, and it just seemed like faster rewards was what I needed.

I pushed my PER up as much as I could until I recently hit 100, which gave me a drop cap of 9! Not having any previous gaming experience (unless you count chess) I feel like I’m probably not playing the game the best I could because there are still aspects of it and terms that I can’t figure out in the sense of what it means to me. But here’s the important point: I’m getting a lot done, I’m procrastinating less, I haven’t felt crushed by my To Do list since I started, everything feels a lot more manageable, and my life is just a little bit neater and more organized. (I refuse to game all the mess and randomness out of it; I need a certain amount to thrive. Beyond a certain point structure starts working against me. Your mileage my vary.)

But what, exactly, am I doing? I’ve got Habits, which are things that need to be done often, some are habits I’m developing or breaking which I tick off multiple times a day. Such as not eating while I’m working, taking frequent breaks from the computer to stretch, and other personal improvement items. Other things in Habits are chores that need to be kept up with, done often, but not necessarily on a rigid schedule. I’ve moved items from Habits to Dailies because I absolutely need to do that thing daily, but it starts as a Habit done as often as I can, until I’m hitting it reliably enough that I can comfortably add it to Dailies. Other things have been moved from Daily to Habits because even though Dailies can be set for just certain days, or on a schedule, some things just need to be done weekly, not on any set day, or any set time span, just flexibly and fairly often. Items change color if you’re not keeping up with them, so there’s a subtle reminder when less frequent items need to be hit.

In the next post I’ll tell you a secret I discovered that makes ticking off habits and dailies in Habitica easier to accomplish. Hate the idea of “game-ifying” your life? This could still work for you.

Below is the full series of posts. For my post of first impressions after I joined Habitica in fall 2015, see The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have With New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. The Enchanted Land of Habitica
  2.  Habitica: How I’m Playing the Game
  3.  Habitica: Linking Habits and Dailies
  4.  Habitica: Quests and Parties