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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Authors, celebrate with a Black Velvet!

Brooks Club

Some years ago Loraine and I wandered into a deserted bar in London, and sat down at the bar. 

I mentioned to the bartender that I was looking for a favourite drink for the hero in one of my thrillers, and he said I should think about a Black Velvet.

He then poured one for us, carefully half filling a champagne glass with Guiness and then carefully pouring champagne over the back of a spoon so that it ran down the sides, without mixing with the beer.

As he pushed the layered drink across the bar to us, he told us the story of the origin of the drink, back in 1861, in the venerable Brooks Club. 

Prince Albert. the consort of Queem Vctoria, was being mourned, and the bartender was asked to serve a customer champagne. He refused, saying this would not honour the much-loved Prince, and instead said he would only serve a special drink during the period of mourning.

He then created the Black Velvet, remarking that the colour and layering symbolized the black cloth armbands that mourners wore, and the champagne the spirt of the Prince.

The legend was born, and the drink persists to this day.

I could not resist the story, and snuck in Black Velvet as the preferred drink of my hero.

If you want to celebrate something, think Black Velvet, and add the story.

Other drinks also use layers. The Poor Man’s Black Velvet using apple cider rather than champagn, with the Guiness added as the top layer.

The German equivalent uses a Schwarzbier (a dark lager), and is served in a beer mug; it is named the Bismark, after the Iron Chancellor who ruled European politics from 1871 to 1890. 

He dominated the cowed King Wilhelm I and lead Germany to victory over Austria and France, and then united Germany. 

A master of realpolitik, he ran circles around all others with his balancing of power through coalitions and brute force.

The Italian version of the Black Velvet is the Velluto Italiano (Italian Velvet), which uses a two parts of Birra Moretti La Rossa instead of Guiness, and one part of Prosecca instead of champagne.


 
Black Velvet






Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ant and Lily: A little girl seeks a green ant as a friend



Spent a bit of time getting to know Photoshop, and decided to write a kid’s story with big pictures and rhyming text.

The result is Ant and Lily. Its 48 pages show the hunt for a new friend by little Lily. Her search is triggered by a bear holding a sign.
 
So off Lily goes, getting help from others and meeting a few problems as well.

Available as a print on demand Amazon book, and as a Kindle ebook, the pictures I selected from my store of public domain images are startling, and bound to appeal to the small children who read this book with their parents or older siblings.

You see more about the book at my Amazon author site at:

The combination of the image manipulation that Photoshop gives us, with the crisp clear printing by Amazon/Createspace, and the vivid images possible as a Kindle ebook, is dynamite for authors!

Let’s salute the creative revolution that these three now offer any person who wants to produce reading matter for any audience they choose (family, friends, anyone)!

Join the Indie Revolution and create your own works!

Here are a selection of pages from Ant and Lily:







































































































Interesting hunt for Hackers

Here's the gist before the hunt started:

The object of Minecraft is to run around and build stuff, block by large pixelated block. That may sound simplistic and boring, but an impressive number of people positively adore this game – particularly pre-teen males.
Microsoft has sold more than a 100 million copies of Minecraft, and at any given time there are over a million people playing it online.

Players can build their own worlds, or visit a myriad other blocky realms by logging on to their favorite Minecraft server to play with friends.

Image: Minecraft.net
Image: Minecraft.net

A large, successful Minecraft server with more than a thousand players logging on each day can easily earn the server’s owners upwards of $50,000 per month, mainly from players renting space on the server to build their Minecraft worlds, and purchasing in-game items and special abilities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top-earning Minecraft servers eventually attracted the attention of ne’er-do-wells and extortionists like the lelddos gang.

Lelddos would launch a huge DDoS attack against a Minecraft server, knowing that the targeted Minecraft server owner was likely losing thousands of dollars for each day his gaming channel remained offline.

Adding urgency to the ordeal, many of the targeted server’s loyal customers would soon find other Minecraft servers to patronize if they could not get their Minecraft fix at the usual online spot.

The author of that article spent months tracking down the hackers who struck his websites, and eventually identified them.

Read the rest of his article here.











Saturday, July 22, 2017

Improved Hints on using Photoshop CC 2017 & Lightroom



Over several years I found a large number of public domain images that I could use to illustrate a series of kids books I was planning.

I needed to alter the images to fit the  storylines, and used the free Photoscape program, and then the paid Adobe Elements 12 one.

Neither gave me the quick and effective tool I needed, so I subscribed to the Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 program (an annual fee is paid).


Photoshop is Unhelpful to Beginners:

I downloaded them and was stunned by how unhelpful the program was for a beginner of Photoshopping. Googling for help, I found several good tutorials, and then jotted down How To notes for myself, which I now pass on to beginners of Photoshopping and Lightroom.

The Beginner’s Salvation:

These hints will take you from staring at the blank screen, to loading some of your pics into Lightroom (LR), and then using LR and Photoshop (PS) to edit your images in ways you never dreamed of before!

Just follow these hints and you will be well launched on the road to becoming an expert Photoshopper of your own and other images.

The Big Two Learnings:

Two key learnings:
·       I found how to save my images into LR so that I could start playing with LR and PS, and
·       I also stumbled on an easy way to simplify my life by using LR as my basic program, and moving from LR (which allows you to make a lot of changes that work), to PS (which is the best program to make detailed changes to individual images), and then shifting back to LR to continue your work.
This saves time and is easy to do, so I recommend that you do this.

How do I start?
Just start with the General Hint #1 below, move on to General Hint #2, and then dip into the LR and PS hints.

Have fun, and amaze your friends and family with your in-depth expertise!

Please share this with your friends, and ask them to do the same.

GENERAL HINT #1: The Quick Start on Lightroom

This takes you from staring helplessly at the screen after downloading Photoshop CC 2017, to loading some of your images into Lightroom, and then being able to start experimenting with changing the looks of your pics.

The way to do this is summarized below, and came from this helpful website: Google Total Beginner’s Guide to Lightroom Step by Step Simon Ringsmuth to get there.

Some more of my random posts for you:

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