Monday, February 6, 2017

Hi all,

I thought I better post something just to prove I am still alive. I have been so busy studying that I have not had time to regularly post on my blog.  In fact, I am feeling guilty as hell that I am writing this and not taking notes for one of my subjects.

My course did not stop for the end of the year or even Christmas. I even had an online quiz to complete by the end of Christmas Day, and got the results for it, when it ticked over into Boxing Day. 

I am currently doing News and Politics, a journalism type subject, through Griffith Uni and Critical Thinking, at Macquarie. I am doing well in the latter. For the former, I worry that my latest assignment wasn’t very good.  

I did not have an end of year “best of” of science fiction for this year as it would not have been very comprehensive. I hardly went and saw any films and I only finished reading one novel. It was a pretty average year for science fiction movies anyway, with Arrival probably being the pick of the bunch. I think the very ordinary last Star Trek movie might end the franchise for a while. 

I watched a bit of small screen science fiction though. Westworld was easily the best, with immense production values, multiple plot lines and a Sixth Sense type of revelation at the ending of series one. I am surprised more people are not talking about it because to me it is science fiction of Battlestar Galactica quality. Other series I enjoyed were Class, Dark Matter, Killjoys, Orphan Black, and Wayward Pines. (ed - forgot to include Mars, a very good doco-drama.)

I did very little writing last year, just a few minutes of writing on nearly every day so I could continue to call myself a writer. Currently I am about a third of the way through the second draft of “Branded”.


So far this year the writing and reading has failed to pick up. Perhaps one day I will write for an hour or so, and that night I will pick up a book and read for half an hour, and then do the same the next day, and the next, until it becomes a habit.   

Monday, October 24, 2016

Advance Australia Fair

The video is a remediation of Advance Australia Fair made for my BA in Internet Communications. The remediation uses the anthem to critique Australian society. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Study, writer's festival.

Once again its been a long time between posts. Two months at least. My BA in Internet Communications is really eating up my time. I am now in the third period doing my fifth and sixth subjects. One of those subjects is an introductory subject to studying at Uni that everyone who studies at Curtin, at least everyone who does a humanities degree, has to do. It focuses on how to write essays, reflective or critical thinking, working in groups, and we have to give an oral presentation. I am having a bit of trouble figuring out how to do reflective writing, although my tutor said my second practice attempt was excellent. I have always hated working in groups - hey, that is one reason why the independent life of writing appealed. I don't like giving speeches either. So the subject is going to have its challenges.

The other subject is about new media, with a focus on participatory culture and remediations. A remediation is changing one media object into another, ie, turning a book into a film. For this subject we have to create our own simple remediation. I plan to remediate the national anthem, make a slide show to its words that critiques Australia.

I got the results for my second period subjects recently, a distinction for The Internet and Everyday Life, which I loathed, much of the time I felt clueless with what I was doing. For that, my major assignment was an essay on how the internet enables people with disabilities to effectively advocate. For Interactive Web Design (a second year subject) I, like with Introduction to Web Design, scrapped in a high distinction. I built a website on disability friendly housing that had a slideshow, interactive tabs (accordions), a menu that moved down the page as a user scrolled down it and tooltips or hotspots where when the cursor moves over an object on the page information comes up.  

I went to the Melbourne writer's festival, which luckily started on the weekend between the second and third periods. My primary interest was to see Justin Cronin, author of the superb and critically acclaimed Passage trilogy. He considers the trilogy science fiction - not horror. I saw him in two sessions. The second was him with the creator of the excellent horror/fantasy/sci-fi? series Glitch, made for the ABC. Very glad to hear that they are making a second series of Glitch as it had a huge hanging ending. Interestingly, they both mentioned liking the American series Leftovers, which has as its premise 5% of the Earth's populations suddenly vanishing. It is a very different series, based on novels, and the novels have the characters moving to Australia in the third series, so it is going to be or already is filming in Australia.

Another memorable session at the writer's festival was with Geoff Dyer. A writer who has written many diverse books, from non-fiction books on yoga and tennis, to biographies to novels. Just about every book he has written has been with a different publisher and different editor. He said he hates the writing process.  

Due to the course, I have been doing very little writing. Just a few minutes a day as I redraft a novel. I have not finished reading a novel this year, even though I started reading and was enjoying the third novel in the Passage series on the train back from the writer's festival.

Well - it is time to get back to study.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I've been busy.

Just noticed it is about six weeks since I posted anything on my blog. I have been extremely busy with my degree in web design. I am currently building a new website for one of the subjects, and it has interactive elements, ie, things that move on it, like a slide-
show of pictures, and hotspots that when rolled over reveal further information. It involves using JQuery and Javascript, both of them I had not used before the course, so it is a steep learning curve. 

This is a photoshop mock-up of  what I am trying to do:



And that is just the homepage. If you are curious how I am going, the website is under construction at grahamclementsauthor.com.  It needs to be complete in four weeks time.Those little arrows on the side of the slideshow took hours to figure out. 

I have done alright in the course so far, I scrapped in a high distinction for the previous web design subject and a distinction for the other communications subject. Nice to get high marks, but that is not what I am doing the course for, I am doing it to learn to build websites from scratch using code.

I have been averaging 40 hours a week studying and after my two hours per day exercising and gardening there is not much time for writing. I do a few minutes every day. In about five weeks my subjects for my degree will change to more theory, so less of spending four hours trying to get an icon to brighten on a web page. Then I hope to have more time to write and read, I rarely have time to read for pleasure these days.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Blog Look.

I have just updated the look of my blog. I am trying to create a consistent web presence online by ensuring that my blog, website and social media look the same and are connected. This desire for a consistent web presence is a result of what I have learnt in my studies for a Bachelor or Arts (Internet Communications). I have just completed the first two subjects.

One of the subjects, Web Communications, had us creating a new web presence, so I created a new blog on Wix, a new Facebook page, a new Twitter account, and joined Wattpad for the first time. As part of the assignment we were supposed to consistently style all the sites. The central node is here.

The other subject was an Introduction to Internet Design. In that subject we had to create, from html and CSS code, a website. I choose to do one for author Graham Clements. For that website, I pretended that I had published four novels that are in reality only unpublished, and in need of redrafting, manuscripts. I am quite proud of the site I built, and the header and background image from that site forms the basis of my new blog design. Once that site has been marked, I will make a few changes to it, like turning its published novels into works in progress, before announcing it to the world.

I am very much enjoying the course and I have found it a huge challenge, as I knew nothing about photoshop and CSS, and a minute amount about html before I started the course. Starting tomorrow, I start two new subjects. 

Wattpad is a site where people publish stories for others to read, for free. I have so far put up two sections of one story. Writers are encouraged to only put up 2000 words at a time, so I have put up two sections of an 8000 word story, which I did not have time to proof read, once I do (and we are not allowed to alter our web presence until it is marked), I will add a link to this blog. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Studying...not much writing.

I've been extremely busy with my course since I started it. I reckon I am averaging 50 hours a week on it. And I have developed a nasty habit of persisting on a problem until I have solved it, eg, staying up to 2am, or waking up in the middle of the night with a possible solution to a problem, and turning on the computer to try them out - eg at 12pm one night and I kept at it to 4am, 

I am learning a great deal. One subject has me creating a website from scratch using html and css code. The other is more theory about social media, but the final assignment is all about creating a web presence, in my case I am creating a blog on Wix with connecting Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Wattpad accounts. All these connecting social media have to be new and not existing accounts and all have to be viewable by someone who is not a member of those applications, and all have to have a similar appearance,  ie the header photo and title, and all have to based on the one theme. 

I was wondering about how good the Curtin University course is. Recently a newspaper article said that the communications department at Curtin, which runs the course, is rated in the top 100 communications departments in the world. That' should give you an indication of the challenge the course is. I have a Master in Creative writing, where I wrote essays, but for this course, I have had to learn how to write a proper essay. 

I am doing surprisingly well considering the challenge, but not so surprising considering the work I am putting into the course. My three graded assignments so far have been a distinction and two high distinctions. In the web design subject I now only have to get 0.1 marks for the final assignment as I now have 49.9 marks out of 60. In the other subject I am sitting on 13 out of 15. 

So I have not have much time for writing. The most I have done recently occurred when I put an old story on the website I am building. I wrote it about 15 years ago. It hasn't dated because it is about time-travel (haha). It is one of the few attempts I've made at humour and I really enjoyed it (yeah laughing at my own jokes), but I was fixing up things as I formatted it for my website.

Otherwise, my writing is going so slow only a time-lapse camera would show some movement. Every day I spend a few minutes redrafting my novel, just so I can feel like I am still a writer. I am currently about a fifth of the way through the redraft.  

One of the huge ironies of this course, with its emphasis on the web and social media, is that I now have very little time to play with social media and check out what my friends are up to. So please don't feel neglected, I am neglecting everyone and everything not course related, except for my exercise program. 

Hopefully when I get into a routine and get an idea of what is wanted is required to do well at this course, I will have more time to spend writing and engaging with others online. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Studying/Writing

I am now a full-time student, studying a Bachelor of Arts (internet communications) through Open Universities Australia. Most of my course is conducted online through Curtin University in WA. Only last Sunday did I find out that my Austudy had been approved – eight weeks after I applied. Surprised the hell out of me. I had had conflicting reports from Centrelink about whether I would be approved. One document said yes, another no, one call centre person said yes, another no. One Centrelink CSO at the local office said yes. One Centrelink manager on Facebook said yes. It was just as well I persisted with my application.  I could only afford to study full-time if receiving Austudy.

The course so far - six weeks in, and two assignments done, one for each subject – has been a real challenge. Especially the second year subject Intro to Website Design. I knew nothing about photoshop, which I had to quickly learn to make mock-ups of the website I have to build for the subject. Huge first assignment for it of a Blueprint of the website.

What made the challenge greater was I have been sick. First my ulcerative colitis became active, and the drugs I take for it make me very tired. And then I had a kidney stone that hospitalised me for three days. It is still in there. My kidney was infected, so they could not reach the stone and zap it with a laser. So they put a stent in it, to force the tube open. I need to go back on the 19th on this month so the doctor can go back in and have another go.

So, with all the studying and messing around with Centrelink and illness, I have done very little writing in the past two months. Just a bit of editing/redrafting nearly every day. I have nearly caught up with my course – hopefully by Monday. But Assignment two is due for web design in just over two weeks. All I have to learn to complete its draft of my website is html. And then I have to write an essay for the other subject in the two weeks after that. Last week I spent around 52 hours on the course. I think this week will be about the same. So I don’t think I will be doing much writing for a few weeks. I have stopped critiquing too. But maybe in a month or so I will be able to get into some routine that allows writing for an hour or two a day.