Test Information Space

Journal of Tech, Testing and Trends

Archive for July, 2010

Correction Rules

Posted by cadsmith on July 30, 2010


Recent links (about twenty): test: Parasoft, user-interface: BlindType, internet: top 20 countries, publishing: Smashwords, web: Healthcare, Google gov apps, WolframAlpha widgets, Glass annotator, Flisti polls, games: Zynga, cognitive: fMRI conversations, science: space time exchange, art: rephotography.

Book Reviews:

Last of the Humans, Amazon, Scribd

This novella looks at some of the topics from this blog in a fictional fashion. The premise is that superintelligent machines have begun to reorganize society and a few holdouts attempt to cope in unexpected manners. There is a quest from the protagonist’s point of view which has ever-increasing stakes. A couple of characters were added for a prequel to previous short stories. These are exaggerated archetypes representative of potential groups.

As a prototypical test of ebook publishing, this took less than a month. The early posts of the newly created content to a social network were lost when it upgraded versions, so the project was moved to an online notebook which eventually had eighty-three entries. This also turned out to be a presentable form for an omniscient futurist feed which the book becomes an instance of. Thirty-seven notes were edited out and could be reused in another story. During this time, a series of ten books on writing were also reviewed. Additional notebooks are listed in Works in Progress.

Videos of interest:
Microsoft Research Street Slide View

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Posted by cadsmith on July 23, 2010


Narrative allows readers to intuitively visualize how well designs may meet expected circumstances. Writers who are exercising their imaginations to develop scenarios for technical documents, nonfiction, or fiction can use the classic Google notebook or any of the online documentation services where notes form an index which can be sorted and grouped into sections or further books, and can export or download to appropriate formats. Reviews can be done collaboratively or in separate comments or messages.

Recent links (about nineteen): 3D: ZCorp printer, mobile: batphone, wireless: body area network, research: automated, graphics: Incendia fractals, cloud: OpenStack, space: DIY satellite, economics: Facebook credits.

Book Reviews:

The Art of Creative Nonfiction, Lee Gutkind, 1997

Narrative stories make nonfiction much more interesting. Fictional writing techniques can be used without sacrificing fact, e.g. using scenes as building blocks to frame the actual settings, characters, plot and drama. Examples are shown from popular books. The writer immerses him or herself in the subject and may iterate between research and writing several times. The former can involve listening to personal accounts so that the subject’s thoughts can be recreated from their own recollections. The point of view is selected as third person unless the writer is relevant to the story. Ideally, a story has local sources and general audience appeal. If the initial draft seems too fanciful, then it can be edited to ensure accuracy, e.g. to be more like a documentary. The author’s first book was in 1974. He founded the creativenonfiction.org journal. In video presentations, he recommends the style for subjects like technology and the professions.

The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass, 2009

The title technique draws from the reader’s own experience. This assumes that they are writing a novel. The exercises convey them outside of their existing mindset and result in output that may be used in an actual manuscript. It is also enjoyable to read the author’s analysis of the new titles and excerpts since the previous 2004 workbook. There are nine chapters each having practical tools. These include extraordinary characters and heroes, turning points or setbacks and the tornado effect, setting’s relationship to character/sentiment/milieu/time, character and narrative voices, causes/motivations/believability/monsters, hyperbole/irony/parody/humor, tension in dialogue/action/exposition/sex/violence/nothing and common/uncommon/moral experience. This was available in ebook format.

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, Donald Maass, 2004

This book is often cited by successful writers. It has three parts on character, plot and general techniques, thirty-four chapters and two appendices. Each chapter has an explanation, brief summary box, and exercises which have a more verbose summary box. There are also five-hundred and ninety-one followup tasks. There are explicit qualities which improve a novel. Put tension on every page. Delay backstory and remove unnecessary commutes, refreshments, or hygiene. Layer multiple plot lines for the same character and add texture by nodes of conjunction. Give subplots to different characters. Combine multiple roles into a single character. Show heroic qualities early. Create some memorable moments of forgiveness, sacrifice, test or change of character, or death. Polish turning points. The protagonist has personal stakes, ultimate commitment, and larger-than-life dialog, action and thoughts. Inner conflict shows desire for two mutually exclusive things. Inner changes for a character show progress and pace of a plot. Symbols are abstract and stand for something inward like a mood or idea. The psychology of place measures change in a character’s perception of a setting over time. Moments in time give the protagonist a keen awareness of the world. Good first lines have a sense of intrigue. Last lines bring wit, poetry or peace.

Writing Fiction for Dummies, Ingermanson and Economy, 2009

Ingermanson, originally a physicist, describes a snowflake method for which he offers an app. It starts a big picture and, using three acts, continually adds detailed scenes rather than synopses, and adjusts original structure as necessary. There are usually about a hundred scenes. The other author, Economy, has eleven titles in the series. There are five parts for nineteen chapters The format is dynamic using brief paragraphs, lists, boxes, cartoons, and icons for tips and points to remember. The instructions summarize examples of each technique from twenty bestsellers and deconstructs a relevant major novel in more detail. This book substantially defines terms and techniques used in writing and publishing. The secret ingredient is like a film clip, alternating points of view between private and public. There are at least three disasters to commit the main character, change direction and force the climax. The authors show how to edit the flow of these, fixing cause-effect, time-scale, unintentional head-hopping, out-of-body experiences, and mixed clips. Fiction has five pillars: world, characters, plot, theme and style. Plot has six layers: single-sentence summary, three-act structure, scene, paragraph, synopsis and scene list. Research of the story world prevents writer’s block. Beside the story’s natural world and cultural groups, the author determines what makes change possible and when. Theme, or deep meaning, is usually rediscovered and refined after the novel is written and reviewed. it will be true, important and short. The historical novel is not a niche, it is a prefix for some other category. New writers most often choose favorite subjects since a novel usually includes about a tenth of what the writer knows. The book explains publishing and the importance of the acquisitions editor.

20 Master Plots & How to Build Them, Ronald B. Tobias, 2003

Story is a chronicle of events. Plot is why; it leads to expectations. The process may ultimately exceed these guidelines, but the writer will have a way to navigate in the interim. There are twenty-six chapters. Each begins with a quote by a famous writer. Examples are given from literature. The ones defining a plot type end with a checklist. Plots have two groups of types, action or character, body or mind. Comedy is the latter. Plot types may be combined. The twenty master plots are quest, adventure, pursuit, rescue, escape, revenge, the riddle, rivalry, underdog, temptation, metamorphosis, transformation, maturation, love, forbidden love, sacrifice, discovery, wretched excess, ascension and descension. Plot is a force of cohesion, and a container. The lowest common denominators are tension, opposition, increasing stakes, change is the point, significant events, casual appearance, reason for rules, central actor climax, Unified action involves the beginning, middle and end. The beginning establishes cause, intent and motivation. The middle has effect, rising action, reversals and recognition. The end has climax, falling action and denouement.

Videos of interest:

Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves | Video on TED.com

Authors@Google: David Kirkpatrick on Facebook

Documents of interest:

Scifi draft by yours truly.

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Posted by cadsmith on July 17, 2010


Fact and intuition may often be invisibly superimposed. The effort to organize scenarios and to verify assumptions can separate them consciously. The resemblances may then indicate bounding characteristics of the observer.

Recent links (about 74): test: Apple wireless, JDSU, software quality, quality metric, quality basics, internet: Finland, user-interface: MS Milo, Intel touchscreen, robotics: Bina48, computation: Wolfram, socnet pattern matching, semantic web: Bestbuy, software: Android app inventor, inDinero accounting, media: Youtube Leanback, digital arts, Plato code, graphics: Kirsch’s pixels, facial camouflage, space: NASA video game, Project M, e-commerce: Google checkout, Rofo real-estate.

Book reviews:

Cognitive surplus, Clay Shirky, 2010

Cognitive surplus results from more free time and creates new social opportunities through public media. The author looks at current social movements to determine why they occur and the results that they get. This includes the free, voluntary and democratic uses of the internet. Some of these have historically long cultural roots, but the time was not right for them before. Others that have been recently tried were opposed by existing industries. Academics promote knowledgeable discussion. Publishing has never been easier. Collaboration is reflexive. Valuation is auctioned. Radicalists and traditionalists negotiate a transition. Interactive participation covers the entire media environment. This affects productivity processes. There are seven chapters and thirteen pages of notes.

No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale, Frankel and Whitesides, 2009

The nanotechnology approach of visualization and manipulation is presented as a framework of sixty topics in seven chapters. Each group has processes that range in scale but have some commonality of theme, e.g. dein photolithography to MRI, or internet to photosynthesis. Pictures provide at-a-glance analogs of the subject of discussion. The text poetically connects simple descriptions of techniques and findings to profound meanings. The reader is encouraged to further combine the pieces together imaginatively for a sense of where the applications may go. The audience is introduced to the smallness of nanotubes, quantum duality, 3D jigsaw puzzles, nanobots, the safety of microreactors, and literal fuel cells. A visual index lists the pictures and attributions, the construction of five of which is detailed in another coda about the artistically enhanced digital photographs. For example, a seeming contradiction is illustrated by a round apple which casts a rectangular shadow that has a bright reflection cast into the middle. The dialogue between the writer and photographer makes the volume unique.

Understanding Change: Theory, Implementation and Success, Holbeche, 2005

Change theory has themes about types, needs, history, leaders, philosophy, internal effects, and environment. There are checklists for managers helping people through transitions, and for generating strategic influence. Lessons from Roffey Park Institute research on M&A are presented. Cultural meaning is interactive, however it may be closed, and difficult or opposed to change. High performance organizations have known methods to get results. Communications need to be both planned and immersive. Leaders are transformational change agents for culture, behaviors and mindset. Stakeholders determine success. Change is ongoing. Longer-term sustainability is necessary. A psychological contract will set and meet the expectations of the staff. Three parts have sixteen chapters, each ending in summary conclusions. There is a seventeen page list of references.

Videos of interest:

Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals and the art of roughness

Carter Emmart demos a 3D atlas of the universe

Clay Shirky

Ellen Dunham-Jones: Retrofitting suburbia

Blogs of interest:

Paul Dirac on theory

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