Adding My Book and Graphic Novel Reviews – Update 4

Wow, this has been one of my most successful blogging mini-projects, something I’m both proud of and grateful for! I am now caught up on my fiction Doctor Who reviews. My Doctor Who backlog from GoodReads, in terms of fiction reviews (books, graphic novels, Big Finish audios) has now all been cross-posted to WordPress. My GoodReads pages includes all my Doctor Who books, except some of my older, collectible, non-fiction that may have never been added to my account. Anyway, since I have been collecting for so long, many of the books that I have and have read, weren’t reviewed because I read them years before getting a GoodReads account. I will, though continue to post reviews of new Doctor Who books first to GoodReads and then cross-post them here. I have three e-books from the Missing Doctor Adventures line (published by Virgin Publishing) to read and review. I have a lot from Big Finish to listen to and review – both classics that I have listened to before, and new purchases. I also have some Big Finish lines besides Doctor Who, such as the Sarah Jane Smith series, Sapphire and Steel, a few Sherlock Holmes audio plays, the new HG Wells audio play series, and Gallifrey. And I also have the Virgin Publishing New Adventures line (7th Doctor), and the BBC Books Eighth Doctor line (much of which I have read at least once – though with e-books I can now read the entire line from the beginning). And, since it’s obviously a main interest for me – I no doubt will continue to add to my collection. I also recently picked up several new volumes in Titan Comics’ Doctor Who lines, so I have those on my to-be-read shelf.

In terms of graphic novels, I have a few more reviews in my back log to cross-post from GoodReads. I also have a fairly large stack in my to-be-read pile. Also, like Doctor Who, DC Comics, especially Batman has been a major interest of mine for years. I added my entire graphic novel collection to GoodReads a few years ago, but many of the older ones do not have reviews. Besides adding newer books, I have it in my head to re-read some of the classics as well as my favorites and review them.

Finally, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank, and I mean this sincerely, everyone who has read and liked my reviews. Every once it awhile it feels like I’m simply throwing my blog entries in to the great void. The likes mean a lot. Likes and comments are always welcome. So, thank you very much my readers!

Adding My Book and Graphic Novel Reviews – Update 3

I have just cross-posted my last fiction Doctor Who book review from GoodReads to my WordPress blog. That isn’t to say that I have published reviews of every Doctor Who book, or even every Doctor Who book I’ve read or everything that I have reviewed on GoodReads. I still have a few of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures published by Virgin Publishing to read, and I am reading an e-book version of one of those now. I also have, in paperback, most of the Doctor Who New Adventures (from Virgin Publishing) featuring the Seventh Doctor and initially Ace, then later new companions such as Dr. Bernice Summerfield (whom I’m pretty sure is the basis for Dr. River Song) and Roz. I read some of those years ago, but I intend to re-read the entire series in order, and I have the e-books for the ones that I’m missing. I also have pretty much the entire run of the BBC Books Eighth Doctor series – I’ve read many of them (see list on GoodReads), and I have the e-books for the first 20 or so that I don’t have in paperback. And then there’s the New Series Adventures books, also from BBC Books, so there is still plenty of Doctor Who tie-in fiction to read.

I will continue to cross-post my book reviews though. I have reviews of many of the Big Finish audio plays and Companion Chronicles audio books. I have many non-fiction book reviews of books about Doctor Who. And, I have reviews of other books to cross-post, so there is plenty to continue to cross-post. As always, reviews get posted to GoodReads first, which I am keeping as a chronological reading journal, whereas here on this blog I am posting by topic for the most part. I’ve also read the entire BBC Past Doctor Adventures line, though most before I discovered GoodReads so I don’t have reviews at the ready. I may very well re-read some of my favorites to then review and post. I am also continuing to post my graphic novel reviews, and I may very well re-read some of my classic graphic novels to review and post. So there is plenty of content to be posted.

This project is going well, internet problems aside. I also appreciate the likes, new followers, and comments. Thank you all!

Oh, and by the way, I also want to get back to my movie and TV series on DVD/Blu-Ray reviews. My schedule limits my time on that project, however, I’m trying to at least watch a movie from my “to-be-watched” shelf every weekend, and I hope to get myself organized enough to review them as well. I don’t want to abandon the project.

Adding My Book and Graphic Novel Reviews – Update 2

The project to add my already-written book and graphic novel reviews from GoodReads is going well. I spent this weekend adding bibliographic information from my graphic novels. Needless to say, I have a lot of graphic novels, which are currently stored in stacked, plastic boxes. Finding a particular book, therefore can be a bit hard. However, I want to make sure the best information possible is included. I post these reviews in the morning, before work, adding a photo-header, categories, and tags. I’m also checking the HTML and line spacing and fixing any typos that I happen to spot. I don’t want to slow down the one book and one graphic novel post per day rate, so what I’m going to do for now is put in the information I have, and update it on the weekend, when I can search for the books. It should only be five graphic novels that will need to have their bibliographic information block updated at the end of the week.

Second, I wasn’t sure what information would be most useful for the information block. I’m including artists in a single line, including the letterer, inker, penciler, etc. Should this information be broken out by job description? Some of my older graphic novels aren’t very specific or detailed about credits. Yet, I want the information to be as accurate and helpful as possible. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

And again, thank you all for your likes, it means a lot to me. Feel free to post comments and questions as well.

Adding My Book and Graphic Novel Reviews – Update

Cross-posting my book reviews from GoodReads is going much better than I initially thought. This is good! I’m posting two reviews a day – one book and one graphic novel. Yesterday, I published my book review and was working on the graphic novel review when my Internet crashed. So today, I’m thinking I will technically publish (cross-post) three reviews just to be up-to-date.

I’m also getting positive feedback on my reviews! I really appreciate it everyone! And don’t be afraid to leave comments as well as push that like button!

One other thing – as anyone who reads this blog regularly may have noticed – I’m starting with my Doctor Who book and graphic novel reviews. I decided to go with a more topic-based approach for this mini-project. So, I’m starting with my Doctor Who books and Doctor Who graphic novels. There are a lot more Doctor Who books than graphic novels, and even if/when I get caught up on reviewing my Doctor Who graphic novels – there’s still a lot more books than novels. So after the Doctor Who graphic novel reviews are posted – I’m going to post my DC Comics Graphic Novel reviews, then the Other comics. I’ll keep that more-or-less chronological too, however, as with Doctor Who, I will keep series together. Once the Doctor Who books are all posted, I’ll go back and cross-post reviews of other books, again in chronological order.

Once everything from GoodReads is cross-posted (all the reviews, that is), I’m thinking of re-reading and reviewing some Doctor Who books and some DC Comics Graphic Novels that I read years ago. Anyone with strong opinions on that, feel free to post a comment or shoot me a message. Just be nice. I’m a bit too stressed right now to deal with mean people. As always, all reviews will be posted to GoodReads first. I like the site, and I really love having a reading journal. If you’ve never used the site, check it out.

Adding My Graphic Novel and Book Reviews

After much thought, I’ve decided to add my Graphic Novel and Book reviews on this blog.  I was cross-posting them to LiveJournal, and trying to deal with the technical problems, but with Live Journal going under – I wanted a second place to post my reviews. Everything will still be posted to GoodReads first, but I hope to keep a copy here as well, and to tag everything to be easily searched.

Agile Update – June 2016

Wow, has it really been a month since I’ve posted anything? I actually feel quite nervous about writing again, even though I’ve accomplished a lot in the last month. Again, as I pointed out in another post, I’ve been moved to a different shift – I now work second shift, which I really, really like. No more getting up at 6:00 am, which any time but high Summer, means getting up in pitch darkness. No more driving during rush hour traffic that doubles my commute time. And most importantly, no more being exhausted all the time by a schedule that just doesn’t fit my body clock so to speak. But it’s still an adjustment to schedule things almost reverse of a “normal” schedule.

However, that’s not why I’ve been so short of posts recently. I’ve actually been very focused on professional development. For my job I need to be A+ Certified. It’s a very basic certification from CompTIA, and one I’ve held before, though I let it lapse (re-certification is expensive, so unless it’s necessary for your job or directly related to the type of jobs you’re applying for – Why bother?) Anyway, I studied a lot in May, and June – and the week of June 12th to June 17, I was really cramming for my second test in the two-test sequence (I passed the first in January, but was unable to even schedule the second test until the Spring.) I haven’t crammed that much since I was an undergrad in college. I’d get up, study for a couple of hours, and go to work. I’d bring my book and notebook to work and study and review during every spare moment I had. But it paid off, because on the 17th I took and passed the second test becoming A+ certified.

However, because I spent so much time working on that, other things fell by the way side. I spent last week getting caught up. I also, in the midst of all that, had some medical things to deal with that were annoying and not fun, and very much not for public consumption. But anyway.

So besides the career development step of becoming A+ Certified again, I’ve taken other steps too, and plan on more for the rest of the Summer, but without formal classes.  I bought the Serif Suite of Graphic Design Programs, which are desktop, not Cloud, programs similar to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. Remember that I took a couple of Adobe classes last Summer? Well, I’m going to be teaching myself Serif PagePlus, Serif WebPlus, Serif PhotoPlus, Serif Photo Stack, and Serif Draw Plus this Summer. In addition, I’ll probably spent time using Inkscape, Coral Paint Shop Pro, and maybe even Gimp, Microsoft Publisher, Scribus, and Pixlr. In other words, reviewing and learning new skills in the graphic design software I downloaded last Summer after finding out that not only was Creative Cloud out of my budget, but with it’s “Cloud” nature I wouldn’t be able to use it anyway because of the type of Internet I have. Yesterday I watched the training video for Serif Page Plus and used it to design a cover for a .pdf and EPUB I’d put together of notes and transcripts that I studied for my A+. Purely for practice. Though I should see if I can put the document on Linked In as an example of my work. I’d have to seek permission of the publisher of the actual training material, though – I just compiled everything into a single e-book. Additional watching of training videos, learning how to use the software, and practice with the software is something I’m definitely planning on.

A third area of professional development I’ve been working on since I started my new position as an IT Help Desk Technician is to read the Intercomm magazine published by the STC, the Society for Technical Communication. I’m getting caught-up on my professional reading. My membership expired at the end of last year, and I need to renew it. I might even look at their professional development opportunities, and investigate certification.

The other area of professional development I need to look at besides graphic design and technical writing is Agile and project management. I need to see what type of professional societies and maybe even certification I can look at in Agile. I love the system when it’s done right, and it fits with my other interests – professionally.

But what else have I been doing in June? Well, I spent so much time studying I didn’t read a lot of regular fiction books. But I did read a lot of graphic novels, and I’m currently reading a twelve-book series of Doctor Who novellas. All my book reviews are on GoodReads. And I added all my graphic novels to GoodReads so I have an easy-to-access list, one that’s public and shareable, and one that’s easy to reference.

And in May I joined the fitness club at work. I received a basic fitbit as a membership “gift” and I’ve been averaging 3000 – 5000 steps a day. My goal is to get closer to 6000 steps a day. I also want to start exercising in the morning. Not crack-of-dawn morning, but I don’t start work until 12:30 pm (noon-thirty) now, so I have time to do some exercise and shower before work if I try. It’s just hard to be motivated. I do walk on at least one break at work, and if the weather is bad I walk on the treadmill at work. I also have a goal to lose 20 pounds in the next six months – this is my doctor’s advice.

With all my accomplishments, though, I’ve been bad about remembering to record them. So, another goal is to get back in the habit of setting goals, recording accomplishments, and writing a weekly Agile post.

So on to specifics:

6/1/2016

  • Added all of section 1.4 to Messer Notes .pdf
  • Studied Wireless in A+ book at work

6/2/2016

  • Finished adding all of Section 1 Professor Messer Video Notes to .pdf document
  • Watched video on Windows Command Line Networking Tools
  • Reviewed Doctor Who Hyperion on GoodReads

6/3/2016

  • Finished downloading and adding Section 3 & 4 of Professor Messer Notes to .pdf

6/4/2016

  • Reviewed Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880 on GoodReads
  • Added section 4 .pdfs to full .pdf notes (Professor Meser A+ Notes)
  • Reviewed All-Star Batman and Robin on GoodReads
  • Finished adding all Professor Messer Video Notes to full .pdf
  • Finished Word document on creating the .pdf, saved as .pdf, added to full .pdf, then imported the full .pdf to Calibre and converted to EPUB

6/9/2016

  • Installed Serif PagePlus program on computer

6/11/2016

  • Installed rest of Serif Software (Web Plus, Photo Plus with Stack Plus, Draw Plus)
  • Studied for A+ Exam – read Prof. Messer notes – up to and including Network Commands
  • Wrote review of Doctor Who The Nameless City on GoodReads
  • Wrote review of Batman/Superman Vol. 1 – Cross Worlds on GoodReads

6/18/2016

  • Reviewed Doctor Who – Spear of Destiny on GoodReads
  • Reviewed World of Flashpoint featuring Batman on GoodReads
  • Started adding “Doctor” tags to all Doctor Who items on GoodReads (tags are DW1, DW2, DW3, etc and First Doctor, Second Doctor, etc all the way to Twelfth Doctor)
  • Professional Development – read Intercomm (STC magazine) June 2015

6/24/2016

  • Reviewed World of Flashpoint featuring The Flash on GoodReads
  • Updated some Doctor Who books, audios, graphic novels with tags on GoodReads
  • Reviewed Doctor Who – The Root of Evil on GoodReads
  • Reviewed Doctor Who – Tip of the Tongue on GoodReads

6/25/2016

  • Watched PagePlus training video
  • Created cover for Professor Messer Video Transcripts and Notes Using PagePlus
  • Tried out homemade stuffed sweet peppers recipe (goat cheese and ground beef
  • Reviewed The World of Flashpoint featuring Green Lantern on GoodReads

I’ve been busy with the professional development and with reading and reviewing short fiction (graphic novels and Doctor Who novellas), as well as my steps on my fitbit for fitness. But I need to do more and get back in the saddle towards my goals.

 

The Advantages of Second Shift or, I am not now nor have I ever been a morning person

Long time readers of this blog know that I completed a year-long project on Agile posting updates every week. This year my updates have been sporadic at best, and in April I was ready to give up the project entirely – I was working, things were pretty good, I felt like I didn’t need to post weekly updates. A month worth of Internet problems, and a switch of providers with the chaos that creates and I thought I would just give it up, though I was still keeping track somewhat of various accomplishments (though not as well as I should). And my writing was going well, even without the regular posts.

April, however, was also chaotic in that I was informed at the beginning of the month, that April 15th would be my last day in my department. I would then by sent to two weeks of training, and then moved to another department. I was not happy about this to say the least, especially as the HR person and even my manager were very high-handed about the whole thing. It was presented as a fait accompli – “you will go to training, you will go to the other department, you have no choice in the matter”. No one said the word, “quit”, but it was pretty much understood by all involved that that would be my only other choice, and I couldn’t afford to do that.

So off I went to two weeks of training (nice thing about training it was a 7-hour day or less schedule, but I got paid the full 40 hours per week). This was followed by a week of “observing”/testing/and live testing. Much to my shock I passed the live-call testing. Not only that, but when I checked later, I had the highest scores in my class. After finding out about passing the training class, I was given my new schedule. I’d requested second shift – specifically a “retail second shift” which ends earlier at night than what many people think of as second shift (factories work a 3:00 or 3:30 pm – 11:00 pm second shift). Over my life I’ve worked in retail on-and-off for about eighteen years or more, this includes Summer jobs, second part-time jobs, “Holiday” jobs, etc. I often thought that the hours were the best part about working retail, and that it’s a real pity that you can’t actually make a living working in retail. But the pay is low, there’s no benefits, and it’s never full-time. My first choice for a new shift was 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. I got my second pick – 12:30 pm (aka noon-thirty) to 9:00 pm. The surprise was it was a Sunday to Thursday shift with Friday and Saturday off. The job is working in a IT call center. The call center is 24/7/365. My first working week I continued on the original training schedule hours (8:30 am to 5:00 pm, ugg).

However, for the past two weeks or so I’ve been on my new shift – 12:30 pm to 9:00 pm, and I honestly do love it. The first half of my shift is very busy and goes by quick, it’s often time for my first break or “lunch” (the half-hour unpaid meal break) before I know it. The second half of the shift tends to be slower, especially on Sundays and Thursdays. But it’s also quieter in the call center (except for the cleaning guy who keeps vacuuming right by my cubicle while I’m on a call!). There’s less chatter between agents and quieter talk (less volume and fewer people talking) as call center techs talk over the phone. I like the quietness of the evening hours. And that isn’t to say there’s nothing to do – I still have customers to serve and help; I’m currently studying for my second A+ test (the 802), and I have a stack of professional development magazines to read such as from the STC, etc. I’m actually enjoying my job – I help people all day, I’m solving problems all day, I get to think instead of doing mindless drudge work, and most of my customers on the phone are really nice, and even understanding when I have system problems or I’m having trouble finding the info to help them.

But what is also cool is the shift itself and my schedule. I work 12:30-9:00 pm; so I have all morning, while I’m fresh and awake, to do stuff. I generally get up about 8:00 am, I have my coffee and watch my recorded TV show from the previous night or something off my “to be watched” DVD shelf, and since I’m reviewing my DVDs as I watch them, that leads to future blog posts. After that I generally sit down at my computer and work. And just like on a Saturday (when I worked 8:00 am to 4:30 pm M-F) I’m working – taking care of the everyday things – paying bills, filing, writing blog posts, doing research, etc. Now, instead of only doing that on the weekends – I can get that “little stuff” done every day – which means not having a mountain of receipts to file, or bills to pay on-line, or even on-line shopping to do on Saturday. Having time in the morning, without having to get up even earlier in the morning, means I can write, or research, or organize, or whatever I need to do. About 10 or 10:30 am, I leave my home office, and make myself breakfast, or lunch, or brunch, or whatever you want to call a meal that you have in the morning but that has to last until at least 2:15 pm or 2:30 pm when I have my first break. Then I change from my relax clothes to work clothes. Then I read, play games on my tablet, or this week probably, study, until it’s time to leave for work at 11:40 am. Again, I work from noon-thirty to nine, and generally walk on the treadmill (or outside if it’s nice) during at least one break during work. Though, to be fair, when working days I tried to walk on one break as well. After work, I generally head home, have an after work meal, read (or play computer games on my tablet) for awhile then go to bed.

But, here’s the thing. I’m getting a lot more done, and faster, because the stack of stuff to deal with on my desk gets looked at daily, rather than once a week. I’ve gotten through most of the backlog of receipts, credit card offers, junk mail, and even catalogs. Rule of three: everything goes into one of three piles – file; deal with; or recycle/destroy/trash. The file and destroy piles get dealt with first. That is, they are filed or destroyed (ripped up, shredded, put in recycling, or trashed, depending on what the item is). Then it becomes a lot easier to actually focus on and deal with the “deal with” pile of actual bills, or things I actually really do want to order from, or items that need follow-up. And bonus, because I’m home on working days (plus all day Friday) I can actually call businesses or doctor’s offices that are only open during business hours – something that’s hard to do when you work business hours.

But I’m also getting through projects. I recently added all my graphic novels, three boxes worth, going back to 1986 (in copyright dates) to GoodReads. Most, other than the very recent ones, aren’t reviewed, but at least I have them listed in one easily accessible place, and everything is tagged, and it’s public, so I can point my friends to it as a quick list, rather than pulling out my new Excel spreadsheet (which was also updated). That sort of thing would have taken a week or two, maybe more, when I worked days. Working mornings, I completed it in one week. I just love that.

I’ve also been able to write more blog posts. And I’ve even written posts before work. That is awesome. Working days, I’d often be too tired to do much after work. Or if I did, it was like one thing and that was it. Now, I get at least two hours worth of stuff done before work, put in a full day at work, and have time for the fun things like reading, playing games on my tablet, or watching my shows without commercials.

And best of all, I feel better. I am not now, nor have I ever been a morning person. I hate mornings. Well, early mornings. Getting up at six am, to leave the house by 7:15 am really isn’t fun and I barely have time for coffee, much less anything else. And getting up any earlier is out of the question. Plus, even with being exhausted all the time, especially right after work, I’d often find the one time I wasn’t tired was when it was time to go to sleep – so I’d stay up to 11:00 or 11:30 pm or even Midnight, even though the next day I had to get up at six. And I’d end-up drinking coffee all day, rather than just a cup or two in the morning – and thus not sleep, and the vicious cycle goes on. Plus, on the weekends I’d try to catch-up on sleep – either sleeping in to 10 am, or taking long naps in the afternoon. Now, I’m not fighting my body clock. I get up at 8:00 am, a respectable time – but the time I used to have to be at work. I can stay up to 11:00 or even later and still get eight or more hours of sleep. I can get a good two hours of work done in the morning before “work”. I have time for appointments, even fun ones. Today I had an appointment at 10:30 am, another at 2:00 pm, in between I got to the comics book store where I spent far too much money, and picked up lunch for the family on the way home. Oh, and went out to dinner with my folks too. And I still have a day off tomorrow.

I’m now on a schedule that fits my body clock and my own circadian rhythm, rather than being forced into someone else’s idea of when I should be working. My drive in to work is busy, but not the bumper-to-bumper nightmare of working a quote, “normal”, unquote shift. I actually, much to my surprise and shock like my new position at my job. Both the people working on second shift, and the people I talk to on the phone are nicer, kinder, and quieter. The IT Helpdesk Call Center is a national call center, so I talk to people all over the country, which is awesome and fun. I like solving problems and helping people. And I’m much, much happier with this schedule – and I’m not so tired and exhausted all the time. That is just an awesome feeling!

And Agile – I definitely need to pick-up on tracking my accomplishments again. I’ve joined the “fitness club” at work, thus the tracking of my steps on my Fitbit. I’m getting back on track with my professional development goals. And my blog post writing is getting back on schedule.