I have been involved in Science Fiction Fandom for more time than most of my readers have been alive. When I started, there was no internet, we used dial-up modems to connect with computers, and personal computers such as the Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, and IBM PC hadn’t even been thought of. Fanzines produced by Gestetner mimeograph machines were the main means of communications between fans. (For more about fans, Gestetners, mimeographs, and fanzines, you can read The Enchanted Duplicator and read on with horror or amazement according to your personal preferences.)
Looking back on my experiences, I have decided to create this blog for a number of reasons.
- A desire to share my experiences and debunk a number of myths that have arisen over the years.
- Provide assistance to fans on various topics, such as editing text and images on computers and creating websites.
- To deal with the fanish sites that won’t let me log in unless I enter the URL belonging to my web site. It appears easier to create a site than to bypass the login options of the various sites I have found.
So find a comfortable chair and read about the nature of nerdish fans from the past to the future.
There are a few vendors out there who will provide you with free web sites. There may be some limitations for the free accounts (such as inserting advertising and limiting the types of customization you can apply), but they should be adequate for the needs of most people.
- WordPress.com – This page is supported on a free account from WordPress.com. (WordPress.com is the hosting provider while wordpress.org is the organization that supports the WordPress application, a free open source application for supporting blogs and other types of web pages.)
- Comic Fury – This hosting provider is specifically for web comics and other web sites based on images. If you click on the link, you will see a number of web comics that are hosted by this provider.
- YouTube – Most people are familiar with this provider, which provides hosting for videos. Since videos take up so much storage, you may have an easier time storing them on YouTube than on your blog.
- Twitter – Twitter and Facebook are good for people who like your site. I am assuming that most people who use the web are familiar with these products.
- Facebook – See discussion for Twitter
In addition to these free services, many of these providers also offer additional services for which there is a charge. When you have a free account, you may receive e-mails asking you to sign up for some of these paid services. I would ignore them. If you find that you need something that is not provided by the free account, research the offerings yourself instead of listening to the salesmen.
A final note to users of these free services. Your goal is to set them up so that there is synergism between them. Each of them should have links that make it easy to find the related accounts from the other providers. For example, your blog should have links to the YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. The information on videos on YouTube can have links to blog entries, and blog entries can have links to YouTube videos.
I recently attended Furrycon, where there was a Meet and Greet for STEMFurs. (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) At this meeting and a few others, the question came up as to what kind of panels would be suitable for these people to host. I am creating this blog entry to post my thoughts and perhaps start a conversation.
Automation and Robotics
- A number of people are using Arduino microcomputers to add features to their costumes and displays that would have been next to impossible a decade ago. The first discussion would be a discussion of how these things operate and the various types of electronics available to fans.
- Another could be a discussion of creating your own robot. Imagine K-9 from Doctor Who following you around and calling you “Master” or “Mistress” or other title according to your depraved preferences. Agatha Heterodyne would be proud to see people creating their own clanks based on things that “man was not meant to know”. Perhaps a replica of The Luggage from Discworld could carry your supplies.
Free and Open Source Software
Most fan projects are run on very tight budgets and free software helps to keep down the costs. Panels would include discussion of these products and how they can be used. Some of the products to be discussed could include the following.
- Audacity – A sound editing product
- Blender – 3D CGI
- GIMP – (GNU Image Processing) It has a great deal of the power of Photoshop, but it’s free.
- LibreOffice – A very powerful document processing program comparable to Microsoft Word.
- Muse Score – It records your keyboard playing as a music score and/or MIDI file. It plays MIDI files. It allows you to create your own music scores or generate them from MIDI files.
- VideoLAN – A suite of products for non-linear editing of videos, playing videos, and converting between video formats. (Includes VLC)
- Using blue/green screen editing to send your fursona to the moon.
- Creating and recording music
- How to draw without injury such as RMI
- 3D printing and CAD/CAM
- Computer Security
- What are they teaching them in school these days
- Is STEM education working
- Possible changes in STEM education
- History of computing machines from the abacus to quantum computers
- The Singularity – Is it like a rainbow, always appearing to be just a little ways away?
- A skeptical view of artificial intelligence