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Updated: 2 hours 10 min ago

Inconsistenty in Word’s picture sizing

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 04:07

I came across an annoying, and puzzling, inconsistency in the way that Word 2013 handles picture sizing.

Generally, in earlier versions of Word, when I wanted to resize a picture (usually a screen capture), I would right-click on it and select Format Picture from the context menu. That opened a dialog box where I could resize the picture, either by absolute value or by scaling by percentage, and maintain the aspect ratio. In other words, I could change the width and the height would change to match.

In Word 2013, if you right-click on a picture, it opens side-bar with v (more)

2015 Prix Aurora Awards

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 04:38

The 2015 Prix Aurura Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy of 2014 were awarded at SFContario 6 this weekend. Congratulations to all the winners. Here are the fiction awards:

  • Best English Novel:  A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books
  • Best English YA Novel: TIE:
    Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Tor Books
    Out of This World by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada
  • Best English Short Fiction: “Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi, Analog, July/August
  • Best English Poem/Song: “A Hex, (more)

Ansel Adams’ photographs of Japanese internment camps

Sun, 11/22/2015 - 09:49

Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer, shot a series of photographs of Japanese internment camps during World War II. None of these were in the major exhibition of his work shown at the McMichael Gallery a couple of years ago.

The Atlantic has a gallery of 12 of the photos and there are 46 more on the Business Insider site.


Weather Forecast: Hot, Stormy, and Violent

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 04:17

It looks like this year’s El Nino event is going to be a record-setter and that doesn’t bode well for much of the world.

We already knew the Godzilla Cthulhu Sauron El Niño of 2015 was gonna be bad. But exactly how bad are we talking? (more)

New free SF anthology inspired by Microsoft

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 04:47

Microsoft has commissioned a new anthology of science fiction stories inspired by its technology. Future Visions contains stories by nine SF writers, Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, , Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, and Robert J. Sawyer, along with a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, plus original illustrations by Joey Camach.

The Amazon blurb (more)

Getting Starship Troopers Right

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 06:54

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a science fiction fan and Robert Heinlein is one of my favourite writers, at least the Robert Heinlein up to and including The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And his novel Starship Troopers is right up there at the top of list.

The movie version, however, is another story. I hated it when it came out and it took a couple more viewings before I could appreciate how Verhoeven twisted it into a pointed anti-fascist satire. On Overthinking It, John Perich (more)

Canada’s War on Science is Ending

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 19:29

I’ve posted here before on the horrible treatment of science and scientists by our former and very unlamented Harper-led federal government. That war is now ending. Only a few days into its  term, the Trudeau government has already taken significant steps to redressing the wrongs committed by Harper and his henchmen.

Under Stephen Harper, journalists who requested information or interviews from federal scientists or health policy officials could expect long delays, refusals, or replies — often after (more)

1941 Retro Hugos Anthology

Sun, 11/15/2015 - 11:35

Members of MidAmeriCon II. the next World Science Fiction convention, will be able to select stories for the 1941 Retro Hugos as well as the regualar Hugo awards. An enterprising fan has assembled an anthology of stories that are eligible the award – most stories from that year are now in the public domain. You can download an EPUB version of the anthology from Google Drive. (If, like me, you have a Kindle, you can use Calibre to convert it to Kindle format).

File 770 has a (more)

Quantum mechanics and pi

Sat, 11/14/2015 - 18:51

For you math geeks out here, this is truly fascinating. It’s an elegant bit of higher math that shows that there’s a relationship between the value of pi and the quantum energy states of an electron.

As an aside, the high point of my university physics studies was when our physic prof showed us that you could derive Einstein’s famous e=mc^2 from Schrodinger’s wave function. It was a beautiful piece of reasoning, as elegant as a Bach étude.

Take a lo (more)

Paul Beverley tools updated

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 04:45

British Word macro wizard Paul Beverley has updated some of his tools to improve performance and reduce the likelihood of Word having a snit and throwing up a “Word is not repsonding” message. I’ve been using his wonderful FRedit tool and can testify both to its usefulness and enhanced speed. I currently have a list of about 275 terms that FRedit will scan for and either replace or highlight for my attention. It takes about a minute to scan a 30-page file.

If you haven’t already done so, check out his Computer To (more)

The Golden Age of SF TV is Now

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 04:51

It’s often said that the Golden Age of science fiction was the immediate post-war pulp-magazine era, where Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov ruled the roost. Other people have said that the Golden Age of SF is 12 – which I pretty much agree with, if that’s the age when you discover SF. But I think you can make a good case that the Golden Age of SF television is now. Take a look at the shows debuting in the next few months:

  • Childhood’s End, based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Man in the High Castle, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick
  • (more)

Word Fantasy Awards announced

Wed, 11/11/2015 - 04:38

The World Fantasy Awards were announced last weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY. Best Novel went to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.Sandra Kasturi and Brett Alexander Savory, won a Special Award: Professional for ChiZine Publications. Locus has the full list of awards.

In relate news, File 770 reports that this is the last year the award statue will be the controversial bust of H. P. Lovecraft.


The Gales of November Came Calling

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 16:50

Forty years ago today, the gales of November came calling for the Edmund Fitzgerald and her crew. The 726 foot freighter sank during a terrible November storm just a few miles from the probable safety of Whitefish Bay. The Duluth News Tribune has published a long article about the Fitzgerald, including interviews with several of the men who went out on the lake searching after she went missing.


Using Word’s FileName and Title fields

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 04:59

I wrote this and posted it on our wiki at work after a couple of people asked me how to put an automatically updating title into the header of a document.

Use Word’s fields to insert a document’s file name or title into the document.

Note: To make using fields easier, set the Advanced option for field shading to When selected or Always.

About field updating

Fields do not update automatically. In the case of the FileName field, it will not update when you change the file name by saving with the Save As option or if you change it manually outside of Word and open t (more)

Oldest recordings now on the web

Sun, 11/08/2015 - 10:53

I would be willing to bet that the University of California at Santa Barbara library’s archive collection of wax cylinder recordings has some of the oldest recordings to be made available on the web. They have now digitized some 10,000 wax cylinders and made them available to stream or download.

They’ve set up some playlists with interesting categories, like Early Hillbilly and Old Time Music, Operati (more)

The Expanse is coming

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 18:56

The first episode of The Expanse will be online November 23, three weeks before it airs on TV on the SyFy network. I assume it will be on Space in Canada, but the article has no information about whether the online version will be geo-blocked outside of the U.S. (though that won’t stop it from being torrented within moments of the end of the episode).

For those of you not keeping up with new SF TV series, The Expanse is based on the successful, and very good, series of books by James. S. A. Correy. I’ve read the first three (I think they’re up to five now), and enjo (more)

Video of Cory Doctorow at Seneca

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 06:48

Back in October I took advantage of being on holidays to see Cory Doctorow speaking at Seneca College. Cory’s talk was both entertaining and thought provoking and is well worth taking the time to watch, which you can now do on Seneca’s site.


Why The Kids Aren’t Reading Classic SF

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 06:49

John Scalzi has a particularly interesting post about why kids aren’t reading classic SF authors like Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. I grew up reading them, and many others of their generation, but the younger generation is reading newer authors. Part of it is due to the publishing industry; the older books just aren’t in print or being stocked by any but the largest bookstores. But there’s always a tendency to read the newest, most relevant stuff, and that’s (more)

Guggenheim online

Sat, 10/31/2015 - 09:25

New York’s Guggenheim museum now has an extensive online collection of more than 1600 works of modern art from 575 artists. It’s another time sink. If you have any appreciation for modern art, you’ll love it, and even if you don’t there’s a lot to like.

OpenCulture has more about the collection.

But if you can’t make it to New York, the (more)

Declassified MOL

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 18:18

In the 1960s, the U.S. planned a manned spy station called the Manned Orbiting Laboratory or MOL. Despite it’s name, it wasn’t a scientific project – it was designed to allow astronauts to photograph the Soviet Union from above. It was cancelled before it could be launched – advances in unmanned satellites made it unnecessary.

Recently a treasure trove of photographs and documents about the MOL program has been declassified. Gizmodo has quite a few in this article(more)