so how do I compile books?

This could be a tutorial, or a little insight into my workflow, or just a handy-dandy little thing to read to kill a few minutes while you wait for your two-headed girlfriend you imported from Russia (or anywhere else you can get mail-order brides; I don’t judge) to get off the airplane.

So how exactly do I compile my books?

Well, first, I have to finish writing a book. I don’t like compiling as I go, because then that makes a whole hassle if I decide to revert some of my chapters and go off on a different tangent than I’d been planning.

1

As much as I love LibreOffice, I hate having bloat in my documents, because bloat means formatting that won’t properly translate into HTML if I just import documents straight into Calibre.

2

The first step is to save a chapter as HTML. If Calibre is going to translate all my chapters into that anyway- since reading a book on an e-reader is basically just displaying a series of tiny webpages- I might as well get it there as early in the compiling process as possible.

3

But LibreOffice likes to vomit a lot of unnecessary tags all over the document. <i></i> right next to each other without any text in between, unnecessary <p> indents when there are already indents in the text (both get removed eventually, but that’s beside the point), and metadata in the <head> section I’d rather not have taking up space in the final document.

4

So I head over to the Zubrag Tag Stripper and paste the entire chapter in there with the following filter:

<p><h1><h2><h3><i><b><u>

This ensures that any formatting I intended to be in there stays in there, while all the crud and bloat gets washed away.

5

A few seconds later, and I get a nice bloat-free chapter. There’s still a lot of unnecessary <i> tags, but those can be manually removed later.

6

Then I open up Calibre and make an empty book and set the basic metadata.

7

After that, I open the metadata editor and set the more complex metadata: covers, tags (generated from all the tags in my library at that moment), and the best description I can come up with at that moment. But that’s the good thing about a peer review edition: I still have time to fix mistakes and improve.

After that, I can open the book editor and import all my cleaned chapter files and work on fixing any remaining formatting issues.

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comfy

It’s a word I already knew, a word I already knew the definition to. But thanks to the most cancerous imageboard on the internet, it’s taken up a whole new meaning.

Comfy.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what “comfy” is- it’s easier to define what “comfy” isn’t.

Stock Android phones running the default Google themes aren’t comfy, devoid of all emotion or personality, just one more product straight off the conveyor belt.

Chromebooks aren’t comfy in the slightest, being as the most “customization” one can do on them is move the dock position and change the background.

Windoze Winblows the bane of my existence Windows 10 isn’t comfy at all. I mean, using Linux can get hectic at times, but at least it doesn’t puke ADVERTISEMENTS all over the system!

But the default Windows XP that I grew up with, that ran on the weird old desktop that ended up meeting its demise in the back of the office before it got gutted and turned into a bedroom for one of my siblings, was comfy.

Antergos with six different windows open at the same time while working on my homepage is pretty comfy, I’ll admit. Especially with a solarized GNOME that I don’t have to spend forever digging through menus just to pull up one program- Windows key, a short search, enter, and I’m on my way without so much as even looking at the touchpad.

Old screenshots of crowded dashboards for what I assume is WOW look comfy, if not a little stressful imagining the hectic gameplay that must have been going on at that fossilized moment in time.

But I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never played WOW.

Maybe “comfy” is just a misplaced sense of nostalgia. Windows XP was pretty cool to ten-year-old me, even if I never got the password-protected folders working. And I used to have a working copy of Game Maker Tycoon I got from a school book order, where I’d take the premade maps and just romp around in them instead of actually getting anything done.

And then the license verification servers stopped working, so I can’t reinstall it for the time being.

But I still miss Web 1.0 a lot, even though I was born in the tail end of it just in time for monumentally bad ideas like MySpace to start popping up and for Usenet to start winding down, even though both still exist today. There’s something unrefined and yet romantic in a static page without any sort of JavaScript making bloated widgets or walls keeping out people who aren’t paying subscribers or logged into Facebook or Google or whatever privacy-raping service is all the rage these days.

homepage

So I’ve made a simple little homepage for MayVaneDay. No weird scrolling marquees, no click-to-open menus that refuse to open on mobile devices. No ads, no tracking, just a nice little page with some pertinent links.

It’s pretty comfy, I dare say.

sign of life

To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand MayVaneDay. The humor is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of video game history, most of the jokes will go over a typical reader’s head. There’s also Vane’s nihilistic outlook, which is deftly woven into her characterisation – her personal philosophy draws heavily from Fire Emblem vidya, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these jokes, to realize that they’re not just funny- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike MayVaneDay truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn’t appreciate, for instance, the humour in Vane’s existencial catchphrase “Every day I wake up alone,” which itself is a cryptic reference to The Pretty Reckless’s epic song “Kill Me”. I’m smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Vane Vander’s genius unfolds itself on their computer screens. What fools… how I pity them. And yes by the way, I DO have a MayVaneDay tattoo. And no, you cannot see it. It’s for the ladies’ eyes only- And even they have to demonstrate that they’re within 5 IQ points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand.

Nothin personnel, kid.

No, I didn’t suddenly die. Although the Sm4sh group I made the mistake of joining at school certainly makes me feel dead inside.

tfw2
God, I hate Discord. I hate being forced to use it; I hate its ridiculous character limit for everything (when Riot lets you name yourself as long as you like, even to the point of potentially crashing the system); I hate that it doesn’t let you steal memes from directly inside the program and makes you open an external browser tab to save them…

I’ve finally finished the first draft of The Duality of Mankind. I went through three different potential plotlines for Act 5- even going so far as to write ten whole chapters for one- before finally settling on a simpler, and hopefully less cliche, ending.

I haven’t drawn the cover art yet. Although I’ve got a vague idea of it in mind, so it shouldn’t be too long before I can unveil it for the world to see.

Systemspace is not real.

How are you, fellow human?

Put this article through your favorite text-to-speech program for a few minutes and close your eyes. Watch the thin blood vessels in your eyelids streak all sorts of incoherent colors across your vision.

Now imagine for me, if you will, the afterlife. What do you see? A white tunnel? Pearly clouds and an old man with a neverending grudge and a chip off his shoulder? The infinite expanse of space and the warm embrace of unconditional love?

Or maybe it’s a rain-drenched city, metal slick with the sky’s tears, neon lights of pink and purple reflecting from the concrete. Light scattering as vehicles speed by and dispel the puddles until the rain can form new ones. A sky-rise apartment, heated only half of the time, the chill from the outdoor air long since pervading the surrounding stone.

If I believed in an afterlife, I’d like to go there. Wouldn’t you?

Open your eyes. Because if some random dude from 4chan is to be believed, that is the afterlife.

I stumbled across Systemspace while taking a little stroll through our favorite imageboard. At first glance, it might be misconstrued for a cyberpunk fansite, or maybe a hype project for an upcoming vaporwave (or some other kind of wave) album. However, once you start scrolling down and reading, things start to get a little… surreal.

“This system is about to be purged.”

Systemspace is, at its core, a salvation project. Tsuki, the “representative” of the “TSUKI Project”, launched Systemspace in an attempt to “enlighten” humans to the “fact” that their world is one of many servers. “Life”, as this server is called, is apparently horribly inefficient no matter how many times it is reset, and thus it is about to be “shut down” and wiped.

…Maybe I should cut the quotation marks, lest they become half of this post themselves.

The sign-up process was on the edge of coherence, but not quite there- filling it out gave me a deep sense of unsettlement down to my very bones. First, you have to input your age and click some boxes with mumbo-jumbo about how you’re entrusting your soul to the TSUKI Project and that you won’t be able to log out or remove yourself from their project once Life has unlinked. Then you have to provide them with a valid email address; they later email you first with a confirmation that they’ve received your registration and, if you’re accepted, your login details.

tsuki email signup
Man, I’d hate to see this site get hacked and all the emails dumped…

The third step, however, was… unique.

tsuki signing

You are presented with three images, two of them examples of what not to submit. The rules are simple: there has to be the code “a62cd92b2104acbd928ccb29” in the picture, the code has to be clearly visible, and the code must be accompanied by a drawing of some sort.

At that point, you break out a sheet of paper and whatever drawing utensils you prefer and draw to your heart’s content. Then you take a picture and upload it- they’re nice and let you strip the metadata from the image if you want. Then one captcha later, and you’re on your way to being officially saved!

At that point, behind the scenes, Tsuki takes your picture and puts it into his super special “Solar”… machine? software? It’s never really specified. Solar then analyzes the strokes in the image to identify your soul, at which point Tsuki assigns a Soul ID and turns it into a long string of numbers and letters called an “EID” and emails it to you a few days later.

Right away, this sets off a few red flags. If the purpose of this part was to collect as many “points of data” in order to locate a certain soul, why an image? Surely there could be some other way- an interview? A picture of yourself? (Not that I would have ever signed up if this had been a requirement.) Perhaps a long piece of writing? A voice recording? And graphology– the science of analyzing penstrokes in the attempts to be able to identify the writer, in addition to other identifying details like emotional state- is generally considered a pseudoscience. And in any case, if I drew two images, one for each hand, would Tsuki and “Solar” be able to tell that they belonged to the same person?

Nope!

I signed up with two completely different emails and drawings and received two different EIDs!

Here are the images as uploaded to the Migrant Listing. One is a minimalist attempt at Lukas from The Duality of Mankind; the other is my monogram and the Sepsteloj septagram from The Phobia Interim.

Here are both drawings along with a draft of this post in editor mode to prove that I was the one who drew them.

However, according to the Systemspace Wiki, multiple EIDs may exist for a single soul. But if the goal of Systemspace is to maximise the amount of people transferred into LFE, then why would Tsuki let precious migrant slots be wasted on the same person?

“Do you believe in the TSUKI Project?”

Systemspace relies heavily on Pascal’s Wager:

  • If you sign up for the TSUKI Project and they were wrong, nothing happens to you.
  • If you sign up and they were right, you now get an afterlife somewhere else in a more efficient part of Synapse’s computer systems.
  • If you don’t sign up and they were wrong, nothing happens to you.
  • If you don’t sign up and they were right, your soul will “shatter” and you’ll lose all your memories upon reincarnation in Systemspace.

At first, this wager might seem compelling: who wants to lose their memories? But I took some time to think about it, and sacrificed one sleepless night pondering it over- and, you know, if I really were to have lived a fulfilling life only to have myself transferred over to a world where I’d slowly get my memories back over the course of twelve years … That would be absolute torture. I’d have spent my entire life acclimated to the Life way of doing things, and then I’d have to relearn how to do everything in Systemspace with the emotional baggage of Life weighing me down? The memories of all the friends I left behind, all the files I couldn’t take with me, the clothes and costumes I spent so much time into making, all gone and lost forever?

No thanks. At that point, I’d rather soulshatter and get a new blank slate.

Systemspace seems rather authoritarian to me- something I’m strongly averse to. “Everyone is important,” they say. But what differentiates an ambition-driven person from someone who dwells in a basement and consumes junk food all day?

It’s a person’s life achievements and accomplishments and goals that determine if they are “important”, and even then, nobody can be important to 100% of people 100% of the time. So either Systemspace has to pull some authoritarian strings so everybody has to live an “important” life, or they’re making empty promises.

And how does free will work? Will I still be able to get a job- be able to form a voluntary contract with somebody else to exchange labor for money? Is there even money? How does distribution of goods and services work? Will I be able to own my own property and do with it as I see fit, or will I be forced to live communally with others?

All this by itself would be enough to make me throw down my towel in rage and unregister immediately. But in true Billy Mays fashion: BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

“The project is also an experiment in human doubt, due to which the TSUKI Representative is not allowed to give direct proof of its authenticity or the existence of Systemspace.”

Why wouldn’t Tsuki be allowed to prove the existence of Systemspace? Wouldn’t it legitimize his Project and emable more people to be “saved” to LFE?

In fact, if this were true, why would Synapse choose to provide a path to salvation through a website known to few people outside the imageboard culture? Why not a global announcement through more mainstream means? I mean- they have administrator access to this server, after all! They certainly would have the resources.

Or is it that all of this is bullshit, and thus with this excuse of not being able to prove anything, he can sweep aside any disbelief and disproof?

The burden of proof states that, if you’re making an assertion, it’s your responsibility to provide sufficient evidence to prove your position. Not the person you’re trying to convince, not random people on the internet. You.

The wiki states that the world will be unlinked 150 years after the last migrant dies. Obviously, given the current state of medicine, neither you nor I will be around to see the moment of unlinking when it passes.

The only way anybody alive today would be able to prove Tsuki right would be for one of the migrants to kill themselves, experience LFE, and then return to enlighten us on the missing pieces with photographic and video evidence: which wouldn’t work because one can’t return to Life after being transferred to the “waiting room”.

And if Tsuki, for whatever reason, can’t prove his own statements himself, then there is no reason to believe him, no matter how convoluted his lore.

EDIT 4/3/2018: I’ve recently stumbled upon the Apollo Society, which has several more re/sources concerning Tsuki’s refusal to prove himself, as well as additional information about the person himself. In this image, we can see Tsuki admitting that he was lying to the migrants and then later going back on his word and saying that he tried to stick to the truth as much as possible. Which one is it, Tsuki?

“260 days until unlink.”

The current version of Systemspace explicitly states that suicide is discouraged as it would “create bad memories“. However, in previous versions of Systemspace, suicide was not only condoned, but borderline encouraged.

“You will be transported as long as you die any time after the 1st of July, 2017,” Tsuki assured them. “Dying of old age included, but suicide also included.”

Despite condemning suicide in the current version, there still remains a powerful appeal to suicidal people: the promise of an afterlife dreamland instead of a void. In a vulnerable moment, killing oneself doesn’t seem so bad: they’ll just hang out in a virtual waiting room until the gates of LFE open!

Except, you know, things don’t work that way. Because Tsuki himself admitted that this is a whole load of crock.

The first mention of what would become Systemspace is on a Reddit thread, where Tsuki admits that his “daydream tells him to die before [the] 28[th] of August”. In a later imageboard thread, Tsuki states that his daydreams have grown into full-on delusions and that he is scared of going to a psych ward. In addition, we see a more fleshed-out version of Systemspace, including the names of companies and a fuller explanation of the multi-server system.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable putting faith and public support into a religion founded by a mentally unstable anon who admitted himself that the whole thing was a farce.

$ystem$pace

According to the calculator, if registration was closed right now, Life would be unlinked on 11/27/2018. However, it was originally supposed to be unlinked on 7/1/2017, but somehow Tsuki ~magically~ just happened to be able to negotiate his way into more time and membership slots!

Did you know Tsuki is making money off of Systemspace? Not on ads or analytics- neither NoScript or uBlock Origin picked up on anything when I was doing my happy browsing and research gathering.

Part of the few perks of registration is a “file box” where you can store files to take with you to LFE. Note that these are the only files you can take with you: all else will be destroyed and lost when Life is purged.

This is designed to create massive anxiety: I mean, I want to keep my books that I’ve spent my life writing- but I also want to keep my music? and my photos? and my other works: everything that chronicles my steps in becoming “me”.

I should also mention that you start off with no space whatsoever. Your only option of getting any is to pay for it with Bitcoins, thus discriminating against “migrants” who either don’t have the money or the means to purchase Bitcoin and send it to Tsuki.

What do you bet that, come 11/27/2018, Tsuki’s going to extend registration even farther so he can continue to make money?

I mean, you could also email Tsuki directly and ask for some free space, which is what I did. Which leads into another issue:

I want my privacy.

However, Systemspace seems to have none.

email
Please don’t judge for the “I would gladly pay” line. “I would pay but I think this is a huge scam” would be awfully rude, don’t you think?

Tsuki has his GPG public key on his website, which I found as a pleasant surprise: I can’t remember the last time I had to contact somebody and they provided a key. However, I also did the courtesy of attaching my own public key so our correspondence could be encrypted both ways.

Tsuki didn’t encrypt his reply.

And he sent the whole thread back in plain text.

In addition, when you reach the age of twelve (considered the age of consent in Systemspace, which is kind of a red flag in and of itself) you get your files from your file box back. However, the wiki states that most of the files will have to be re-encoded by hand in order to be compatible with LFE devices.

Why? Wouldn’t it just be easier to port, say, LibreOffice or VeraCrypt to LFE devices instead and skip the whole re-encoding thing altogether?

In order for me to get my files, I’d have to decrypt them and let strangers comb through them as they converted them. How am I supposed to know if they’ve been copied to somewhere else against my will? What if there’s something in there that’s benign but incriminating nonetheless? What if it affects my placement in LFE?

And while we’re here, how does the internet work in Systemspace? Do VPNs exist? Is there something analogous to Tor? Or will my every move online be tracked by the overlords at Synapse?

Of course, none of these questions are coherent, because if you’ve been paying attention to this post at all, Systemspace isn’t real. There is no cyberpunk afterlife, and if there was, I’d rather stop existing at all rather than let my soul become a puppet for a corporation and their simulations.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to wrestling with myself over which of the planned endings I should go with for The Duality of Mankind. I’ll get back to you on whether Lukas dies or not.

– Migrant 5375 and 5415.

Or, you know, Vane Cassia Vander.

constant

1v1 me, procrastination. Fox only, Final Destination, no weapons

I have problems with consistency. For example, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to post at least once per day, but today it somehow completely slipped my mind until bedtime. And I swore that the only way I’d ever be able to finish my next book in a timely manner was to write a full chapter every day of the weekend and at least one page during the week- but I spent this whole last weekend just trying to figure out what in the world I wanted Part 5 to be about.

But I finished four pages today, so that’s nice, I suppose. And I’m writing my daily post now.

So I suppose I’m not completely gone.

this is why backing things up is important

good night sweet prince
You didn’t announce a single thing, you fish-faced liar.

So Wyffy, the OwnCloud service I used to store all my writing files on, has shut down out of the middle of nowhere. I can’t get in. Everything that I had on there is gone.

Except, for, you know, all of my writing files. Because I kept them backed up on my hard drive!

tree
SIKE

I’ll probably dig up one of my many inactive Nextcloud accounts I have lying all around to replace Wyffy. I mean, there won’t be the nostalgia factor that comes with using something I found out during the great move of late 2016. But as long as it works and the operators don’t randomly shut it down and nuke their entire service, I think I’ll be fine from here on out.

Also, apparently the college I’ll be attending soon gives all their students a Google account with unlimited storage, so I’ll be learning how to use (g)rsync and Veracrypt to abuse that as a backup option too. Even though I hate Google with all my guts…

IT’S TIME TO STOP

I love writing. I love being able to take something straight out of a borderline LSD simulation and turn it into a working story that I can teleport straight into a person’s mind using nothing but arbitrarily decided scrawlings.

I like online friends, too. People I don’t have any obligation to talk to except for a few shared interests. Public forums are cool, too. I can share my work real quick and run away and come back a few hours later to constructive criticism or flat-out praise without much effort on my part.

But unfortunately I can’t do that because of this insidious little piece of feces that’s stained our society called Facebook.

Want to join the Eyes + Words Writer’s Group? Sorry, you gotta use Facebook. Want to join Juansen Dizon‘s New Age Poets Society? Nope, sorry, you gotta use Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong. I love these two writers, and I love the idea of these groups. I love areas for fledgling and struggling authors to get help and network and make new friends. There are people who need help, and there are people who would love to give out help.

But why do I gotta sell my soul to earth’s equivalent of hell in the process? If I wanted to suck a mega-corporation’s dingdong, I’d have picked Blogger instead of WordPress. I don’t want to give up my private data to a corporation whose main job is gathering data for advertisers just to see what other people kinda like me on the other side of the globe are writing.

Facebook is dangerous for me to use because of this little thing called the “real name policy”. I don’t want my birth name or whatever I’ll change my legal name to later to be tied to my pseudonym, but in order to join these communities, where I’d be speaking as Vane Vander… I’d have to, you know, not be Vane Vander.

Which kinda defeats the purpose.

There are alternatives. Our good buddy chum pal friend buddy pal chum bud friend fella bruther amigo pal buddy friend chummy chum chum pal Disroot has a forum option (based on Discourse) where you don’t have to be bound to arbitrary restrictions about how you can identify yourself, and you can post freely without a draconian corporation watching your every move and selling your habits to advertisers. And if libre software isn’t your thing, there’s also the proprietary proboards.com.

If these communities didn’t require me to sell my soul, I’d join them in a heartbeat. Nor do I expect them to move their entire userbase in order to satisfy the needs of one person. But surely there are other people out there who’d join in on the discussion but can’t or aren’t able to use Facebook for one reason or another- maybe they’re estranged from their family. Maybe they’re trying to avoid PRISM or whatever surveillance program the NSA has cooked up now. Maybe they’re a conscientious objector from the fuckery of Zuckery.

So I guess I’ll just stay here.