Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Pinging Jeff…

Pong, everybody. Relax. I’m still here. And I’m very glad to say that I’m probably 1200 words from the end of my current book project. If it weren’t for some home repairs and carpet cleaning I’d be done by now, and I expect to be done by EOD Friday. The publisher is still reluctant to say much about the book, for reasons I still don’t understand. I’m puzzled, but in publishing as in so many other realms, those who write the checks make the rules.

Much to do after the last word rattles out of the keyboard. Getting rid of XP is high on the list, given our April 8 deadline. This afternoon I ordered a refurbed Win7 laptop, a Dell e6400. How could such an old laptop be useful to me? Easy: I don’t do much on laptops. It’s a travel computer, for Web, email, and some light word processing–like writing Contra entries on the road. It cost me $240 postpaid, as they used to say. I’ve had very good luck with used Dell machines in the last ten years. Every machine in the house but my quadcore is a Dell refurb. I already have two Win7 Dell 780 USFFs for upstairs, and installed Win7 on my lab machine over a year ago. That leaves the laptop and the quad, basically, and if I didn’t need to use the quad to finish this book, the quad would be running Win7 by now as well.

The SX270s are now all bookends. They make very nice bookends.

Oh, and the computer junk pile is getting impressive.

The list of things to do Post Book is long. We need to replace our driveway slab, which is descending into rubble. Ditto the garage slab, the replacement of which will require putting my lathe, big drill press, tooling, and metal stock in storage somewhere. There’s a lesson here: Soil compaction matters. We spent thirty grand mudjacking the lower level, recarpeting, and repainting. Settling soil pulled our gas meter down so far the pipe cracked and damned near blew us over the top of Cheyenne Mountain. I made a number of mistakes having this house built, and I will never make those mistakes again.

Then there’s 3D. I drew 81 figures by hand for this book project, all of them in Visio. (I actually drew 83, but two of them won’t be used.) I’m very good at Visio. However, Visio is inextricably a 2D CAD program, and every time I’ve tried to use it for 3D, it makes me nuts. I took a lot of drafting and engineering graphics when I was in school and know how to do it. (Sure, it was with a T-square. Ya gotta problem widdat?) I need to be able to draw things in 3D. I downloaded the free version of Sketchup after Google bought it in 2006, but was too busy back then to spend much time with it. I see that Google sold it a year or two ago, and the new owners are positioning it as an architectural CAD system. That’s fine, since I know from earlier tests that Sketchup can do telescope parts, and if it can also design me an observatory, I’m good with that. I need somewhere to put an observatory, obviously, but that’s a separate challenge. So learning Sketchup is another priority.

Fiction, too. I’m going to try finishing Old Catholics. If that doesn’t work, I’ll start The Everything Machine, complete with a 3D scale drawing of a thingmaker, courtesy Sketchup. (I tried that in Visio years ago. Uggh.)

I will also be doing some intensive research on Oscar Wilde, for reasons that only a few people in my inner circle understand.

As I always say, Boredom is a choice. I may be tired, but I am not bored. And in a few days, I suspect I will no longer be tired. Bring it on!


  1. Bob Fegert says:

    Oscar Wilde, on his deathbed, raises his head and looks around..and quips “Either this wallpaper goes, or I go!”

    Wilde was a very interesting fellow.

    1. He was, and in a novel I’m still trying to plot, an instance of the nanodevice Protea downloads him from metaspace as a personality. Wilde takes over the nanodevice without a great deal of trouble and has a lot of fun being a cupful of goop coinhabiting the body of a 150-year-old woman.

  2. Alex Dillard says:

    I would also recommend that you take a look at Blender:

    1. Seconded RE: Blender. It’s got a vertical learning curve at the beginning, and the UI is uniformly atrocious, but it’s very, very powerful, open source, and the price is right.


      1. Well, it’s certainly 3-D, but it’s got a fine-arts focus where what I really need is technical and architectural drafting. I’m not sure I’m a good enough artist to draw characters. The other compelling thing about Sketchup is that there are libraries of drawing components, just as in Visio. That’s a model I’m used to, and have used with great success for many years.

        All that said, I really do need to take a closer look at what Blender can do.

  3. Mike Reith says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Sketchup was purchased from Google by the company I work for, Trimble Navigation. It’s even in my division of the big conglomerate.


  4. Erbo says:

    The E6400 isn’t a bad machine at all. IQNavigator issued me an E6410 (very similar) three years ago as my work system, and I’m still using it today. (I do have a docking station and dual monitors at my desk, but having my work machine be a lappy makes it easy to work from home, or to take it to meetings.) It runs Win7 Pro, and I’m routinely running Eclipse and other development tools, as well as our Java code (and the Oracle database it depends on).

  5. Tom Roderick says:

    Jeff, I hope your upcoming research on Oscar Wilde goes well! I HAD to do more than I I ever thought I would since I somehow ended up with him as the topic of my high school senior English term paper. That was in 1965 and I was far too young to have attempted such a task then!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *