NaNoWriMo Update #4

 

Skree.jpg
A pen and paper sketch of a creature from the story. Image by D. Buck

As many of my readers know, I’ve been participating in the summer version NaNoWriMo, known as Camp NaNoWriMo.  Well, we’re nearing the end of the month and this is only my fourth status update. Why, you may ask? The answer is simple: I’ve actually been writing at a decent pace!

Originally, my goal was to hit 60,000 words by the end of the month, effectively finishing the first draft of the novel. This goal didn’t last long; I realized after factoring in family, graduate studies, work and life into my schedule, I probably could only realistically do about half of that. So, I lowered my goal to 30,000.

Despite a strong start, an interesting (to me, at least) character and three completed chapters, I realized even 30K was a bit of a stretch for my word goal. Then, I lowered it to 12,000 words. I figured with my already busy schedule, I’d be able to accomplish that goal and complete the Camp.

 

The idea here was to stay committed for the entire month, rather than giving up entirely, as I have in past NaNoWriMo competitions. I’m proud to say that as of today – July 23, 2017 – I am at just over 11,000 words. I will hit my monthly goal and continue in November proper. Until then, I’ll continue to work on the story, refine it, edit it, have others read it and more.

I’m glad I’ve chosen to participate in this and keep steady. Now, I will continue to write away. If anyone is interested in checking out the story when it’s completed – to help with a proof of the first draft – drop me a line here and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Aside from the novel, there are some other exciting things happening that I’ll post about soon. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time!

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NaNoWriMo Progress Report # 3 – Writer’s Block Edition

Over the past week, I’ve written 11,150 words for my Camp NaNoWriMo Project. The characters are taking on a life of their own and some of the story is basically writing itself.

Now, I’m at a bit of a road block. After an exciting first few chapters, my entire plot is starting to go in directions I hadn’t planned for. Thankfully, I have an outline and a basic idea of where to head from here, but I’m having some difficulty finding the words to get there.

To combat this, I plan to try out one of the Word Sprints and to check out some of the exercises contained in the “care package” e-mails they send us daily.

I hope everyone else is having some luck with their stories and I’d love to know how some of you overcome writer’s block when it does happen.

NaNoWriMo Progress Report #2

Good morning and happy Independence Day to all! I thought I’d check in and share my progress on Camp NaNoWriMo.

The good news is, we’re off to a strong start. I completed a ten chapter outline prior to starting the project and have completed almost 10,000 words. I’ve been hit with sudden bursts of inspiration and the characters are going in vastly different directions than originally intended.

Now, for my biggest hurdle: keeping the plot going in a non-contrived way. I feel I can succeed here, but it’s going to be tough at a few spots. It’s been interesting so far and I’m hoping to complete a few chapters over the weekend. Wish me luck!

Now, if only I could find someone to do some kick-ass cover art for the project…

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NaNoWriMo Progress Report #1

As I posted previously, I intend to enter this year’s NaNoWriMo. I decided to get started with their summer retreat and figured I would post a progress report. Here goes:

I began outlining my story. I have a primary protagonist and his personality is starting to fill out as I write about him. The story already took a tangent from its course to create a few interesting scenes. The outline has changed so many times that if I turned on the “tracking” feature in Word, it would crash the program.

So, I plan to outline in Word and do everything else in Scrivener, which is an inexpensive and awesome program for novelists. It allows the author to create character sketches, jot down ideas, export in epub format and more. It is, in a word, awesome.

I also signed up for the July version of NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo. I wonder how far I’ll get? I will be updating sporadically through the month as I move along the journey. We’ll see if I finish the darn thing this go-round!

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Evolution of Technology at the CSU-Pueblo Library

Here is the original rough draft version of my Colorado State University-Pueblo magazine article. The final, published version is heavily edited and not representative of the spirit of the first draft. That’s not to say I’m unhappy with the edits; the magazine version simply doesn’t have the same theme and style as originally intended. Comments welcome.

Technology, in its various forms, has become a driving force in today’s bustling world, and the use of technology at Colorado State University-Pueblo is a large part of student life on campus. The ubiquity of cell phones, the prominence of The Internet, the proliferation of Streaming Media, both audio and visual; these technological innovations have paved the road of modern life.

The Colorado State University Library and Academic Research Center has grown and evolved over the years to adapt to these sweeping changes. The LARC is now a powerhouse of technology and reference material, with services that include 3D Printing, a coffee shop, a quiet room, several audio-visual rooms, an IT Helpdesk, and computers on each of its three floors.

It is in the LARC that Adam Pocius, CSU-Pueblo’s Web Development and Instructional Technology Manager, CSU-Pueblo Website Developer Lallo Vigil and a select few work study students tirelessly work on the CSU-Pueblo website, updating and enhancing it daily. Pocius and Vigil go about their work in a fascinating way.

The walls of Colorado State University Pueblo’s web development and technology office are adorned with full-color, printed copies of stage layouts from the 1987 Nintendo Entertainment System video game, Contra. According to Adam Pocius, the images from the game are a visual representation of the progress and evolution of the new CSU-Pueblo Website, to be launched in Dec. 2016.

Pocius cited the concept of gamification – the idea of making work and life more like a video game for the purpose of fun, reliability and efficiency – as the reason for choosing Contra for this representation. Everyone in the department seems to have an affinity for video games, Pocious says, that lends itself well to the rigors and challenges of web design.

Pocius himself is represented by a figure of the primary protagonist of Contra and Vigil is represented by a figure of the secondary protagonist from the game. The others involved with working on the website are also represented by figures on the board.

Each level represents a stage in the migration of the current website to the new one. Pocius refers to each successful step of the website migration as a “boss battle.” On the final appearance and defeat of the game’s grotesque, alien boss character, Red Falcon, is the ultimate goal for the new CSU-Pueblo website, representing the official launch of the site.

Pocius and Vigil are both graduates of CSU-Pueblo, from the Mass Communications Department. They were each led down the road of web development and design in similar, yet vastly different ways.

Vigil had always enjoyed video games as a youth, among other creative endeavors. Whether he was creating complicated LEGO structure composed of LEGO bricks or disassembling and re-assembling his computer, Vigil possessed a strong interest in technology from an early age and had always enjoyed building things, which only helped to further his interest in web development and design.

He eventually taught himself some web design and built a website tribute to recording artist Tupac Shakur. Following his High School graduation, Vigil started working for the website manager at his high school, which eventually led to his role at CSU-Pueblo, where he graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication.

 

Vigil refers to his role as being more of a developer, working on the back end of the website design. The back end, Vigil said, refers to what is going on behind the scenes, whereas the front end is what the users actually interact with.

Pocius, on the other hand works more on front end development and design for the CSU-Pueblo Website. Like Vigil, Pocius was quite interested in building things as a youth. He enjoyed the outdoors and learned how to build and create things during his childhood.

Later, he became interested in video games, specifically the Nintendo Game Boy Handheld and the copy of Tetris that came with it. Pocius earned the money on his own for this purchase, which taught him the value of hard work and dedication – skills he utilizes to this day.

In discussing the history of web development at CSU-Pueblo, Pocius and Vigil point to the Internet Wayback Machine, an archive of websites past and present. Through the Wayback Machine, one can see what the USC website originally looked like and even interact with the archived version, albeit in a limited fashion.

Prior to becoming CSU-Pueblo, the University was known as The University of Southern Colorado. USC had its own website, in one form or another until the present site that most students know was deployed in 2007.

According to Pocius and Vigil, the original USC website was not nearly as functional as the current and future sites were/will be. The biggest changes have been in user interface, e-mail functionality and page appearance.

CSU-Pueblo alumni Alan Buck, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in both Facilities management and Computer Information Systems in Spring, 2000, remembers the original USC website.

 

“The website was usable, if a bit primitive.  It was navigable and functional and seemed to be less complicated than subsequent incarnations of it,” Buck said.

 

During his time at the university, Buck assisted in the redesign of a portion of the facilities management page in the ’99-’00 semester part of an independent study/internship during his senior year and now teaches Web Design and Introductory Computer Classes at Pueblo Community College. He does not recall the T-Wolf Portal very well, but remembers an early version of it that was on the USC site.

 

In 2007, the time was ripe for a change in the website design. As technology changed, so, too did the way students learned and behaved in college, Vigil said. Extensive work was put into the design and maintenance of current website, creating what most students are familiar with today.

 

The T-Wolf Student Portal really came into prominence in the 2007 redesign, according to Pocius. The new site, however, it will no longer be referred to as the such. The new name for what students know as the T-Wolf Portal will be “Current Students.”

 

The logic behind this change, as Vigil and Pocius pointed out, none of the focus group participants seemed to know or have any idea as to what a T-Wolf actually is.

“Those students [in the focus group] were confused on where they needed to go,” said Vigil, “So changing it to ‘Current Students’ makes more sense.”

 

Following the conclusion of a nearly year-long, extensive research phase, the new website was built between May 2016 and Jul. 2016.

The Quick Links section has been altered, becoming more of a list – in alphabetical order – of common and valuable links for website visitors. The new site will have a news feed and direct links to pertinent websites. There will also be “call-to-action” buttons featured in quick, easy-to-find locations.

The whole site has evolved to become more user friendly, especially to mobile users. Since Mobile Phones are ubiquitous in today’s society, this greatly benefits all current and incoming students.

Both Pocius and Vigil are excited that mobile users are making up a larger part of the site’s user-base.

“The web itself is something that is just that is permeating all sorts of devices, and that’s fascinating to me,” Pocius said.

Web site design has become the cornerstone of LARC Technology in recent years and the dedicated team of professionals working there will always be striving to improve, polish and enrich the CSU-Pueblo Website for years to come!