N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Back in action!!!



The computer just needed a power cord as we suspected.   Best Buy stopped being a putz and finally got a power cord in that wasn’t some freaky overpriced “universal” one…and they called and we went TONIGHT to pick it up.  I wasn’t willing to wait any longer for it, I’ve got things to say, ESPECIALLY after the con!

I’ll put a new post up tomorrow…I’d do it now but I’ve had a rough day and it’s nearly midnight.

See you in the morning!

The computer ate my brain!

I’d forgotten how harsh the learning curve on a new computer could be!  You go from having everything set up just so, knowing where everything is, and understanding how most things work (I could never understand how EVERYTHING on a computer worked because that would just take up too much RAM on my part, tee hee)…to utter chaos. 

 My last computer actually belonged to Day before she passed it down to me,  and thus I’d already had experience with it before I ever took “possession” of it.  Not to mention it was using the same operating system my previous computer (Henry) had run on, so that made the learning curve that much smoother.  I slipped right into using Elsinor Pearl like putting on an old glove, I only had to adjust a few things before I was reading and running. 

Not so for the new computer!

The Levithan (the new computer… Levi when he is cooperating) was put on this earth to stifle me and make my life more difficult.  Thus the name.  His Vista operating system, which I did not want but could not see paying MORE to have XP installed, is some strange hybrid of XP and Satan making nearly everything impossible to find.  I delete something by mistake and can’t find the undo button…I open a webpage and can’t find the view pull down menu…UGH!!!  How hard is it to not muck with my head?  Pretty hard, appearantly. 

Thus this week has been a very thin week on nrbrown.com…and not because I’m not writing (I am) and not because I have nothing to say (I ALWAYS have something to say)…but because I’ve gotten a lovely, huge, “omg what have I purchased, a  small third-world country?” computer that persists in making me learn a whole new way to function.  As we speak, I’m looking longingly at Miss Pearl wishing I’d just gotten all the problems with her power cord and wirless card and rapidly disappearing memory and case fixed.

Then again, I’m writing on a 17 inch screen…haven’t had a headache (other than caused by traffic) since I got this puppy last week…and I’ve been writing like a fiend.  Humm…perhaps Levi is alright afterall. 

Good computer.  Sit.  Stay.  Customize yourself.

Peacin’ the world!


Photo Sunday #7

This weekend Day and I played with fire and my camera again. I know, I know, two weeks in a row with fire pictures, but I’m still trying to figure out what works and what does not thus the experiments continue.

I am still trying to balance the amount of ambient light around the subject and flame and the actual light from the flame. I’m not going for the classic look of subject lit by flame (leaving the landscape around them black)…but more subject and flame presented in the landscape, drawing from it and making it snap. I envision the flames highlighting not only the planes of my subjects face but also the metal on her belt buckle as well as the tree behind her, all the while our subject is drawn not by the flame but something off screen, something we cannot see but desperately want to.

It may sound hokey, but it’s my vision. *grin*

So, I am working up to this, trying to find out what works and what doesn’t…and along the way I’m learning new things and taking some very nice shots.

This first one is Day’s fire-portrait…which has given me a great idea for a series of element portraits (ice portrait, smoke portrait, water portrait, earth portrait, etc.)…we were playing with the batons and she pulled this great pose. I had her do it again and again until I got the one I wanted. It’s still a little fuzzy, but the flame here is just dazzling and the look on her face was just right. I couldn’t not choose it. I put it through flickr’s editing software, but it is still not the way I want it. I’ve got to say, this “it’s a great pic but fuzzy” thing is seriously making me reconsider getting Photoshop. Anyway, here she is…

My second picture is another day/fire picture. She just looks so great here I couldn’t help but share…

My second picture is stuck at home on my computer. I will fetch it tonight and post it while I work on my new laptop…oh yes, did I mention the new laptop had arrived? I want to wipe it before I add anything on it so that’s the plan for tonight.

How hard is it to buy a laptop anyway?

So this weekend, after talking with Day about the issues I’ve been having with Elsinore Pearl (my laptop) we decided it was time I got a new one.
The issues with Pearl (as I call her) started with her inability to keep an Internet connection in the house to save her life or mine and have spread out to the power cord. The power cord is the bigger of the two issues. When I plug her into the wall the connection between it and the plug is not exactly right so I’ve got to wiggle and jiggle and futz and putz until her little green “let’s go” light comes on to say she is charging. Well, ok fine. Day and I decided to tape the plug to a power strip in such as way as to make sure it was always in the right position. Well, that worked fine until the connector at the computer started getting loose. So now not only do I have this crazy taped power cord attachment that I’ve got to lug around but if I don’t push and pull and twist and shout and hold my tongue JUST RIGHT my screen flickers from bright to dark bright to dark bright to dark bright to dark. Then I start getting a headache and soon afterward I’m crabby and want nothing more than to get AWAY from my computer.

This is not a good thing for a writer. My computer is my best friend and most faithful…ok, let’s be honest and cut the flowery crap. I use the computer every day, it is the workhorse that gets my words out of me and into a coherent organized form, and it is the home of all my photos and host to most of my pod/videocasts. This is the storeroom of my creativity! It is also, much to my shame, the home of my greatest distraction and best relaxation: World of Warcraft (For the horde!). All this means I need a computer that is not going to make me hurt when I get done using it. What I do need is a computer that is going to make me enjoy the work I am doing and encourage me to do more.

Thus we are looking for a computer with a large screen, enough memory to hold all our media, a graphics card that can run WOW, and a DVD player…and all for less than $1600.
Well, we went to Best Buy in Rockville…where we looked around with half the population of the WORLD and waited for an assistant to become free. We discussed various models and after some waffling I made my choice. An HP (which I swore I’d never own again because of a previous bad bad bad experience), with 3GB memory, 250 GB hard drive, and a GeForce 8400 graphics card…oh and a cool copper shell.
After waiting FOREVER with no help in sight Renee decided she could no longer take the dog staring* and the general public milling around. We went to Trader Joe’s to get some groceries, where the crowd was even more dangerous as it had a lot of dog weaving* going on…but the point was to get food and we got that in spades. After leaving Trader Joe’s laden with everything but the corn salsa I was yearning for, we drove back down to Best Buy to get the laptop I had decided on, a laptop with a decidedly male demeanor who was just about to get the name Scorch.
Back at Best Buy, the crowd was thin enough to be bearable and we only had to wait a few minutes before someone offered some help. We pointed out our happily glowing friend and joyfully said, “We’ll take it.”
To which the response was, “Ugh, let me see if I have any.” Dear readers, remember this saying. Just trust me.
He ran off to discover any wayward Scorchy computers lying around of which there was exactly none. When he came back, I rolled my eyes at the lack of customer service I ALWAYS get at the Best Buy in Rockville and asked him if any OTHER stores had that model in stock. Really it should have been something he offered up. Well, there were not…and funnily enough he didn’t try to sell me a similar computer; he just let me walk away. I am so confused by this selling technique, utterly baffled but it is not my store and I am digressing. (BTW, my choice for electronic purchasing will always be the Tyson’s Corner Best Buy, the one across the street from Containers and More. Flat out the most consistent, wonderful service ever.)
BUT WAIT! There’s more!
Day and I drove down to Circuit City in Rockville, which I loathe with a passion because not only do we never get offered any service there the one and only time we did purchase something from them the cashiers ARGUED about who would get “stuck” ringing us up…the cashier did not say one word to us the whole time she grumpily checked us out…and they locked the doors on us and did not point us to the only unlocked door in the place until we went to the back of the store to get someone.

Ok, so I was ready for the bad service. The whole time we were there not one person walked up to us and asked us if we needed help, and that was expected. All the floor crew gathered in the cashier area, doing God only knows what…also expected.
It didn’t matter. I was there to buy a laptop dang it! I looked at all the computers; I lusted after a few of them. I finally came to terms with the fact that I wanted the bigger more expensive laptop and Day convinced me it was ok to buy it…btw, it was a blue/black model that didn’t really have a lot of personality but was most assuredly a big bull of a computer, perhaps Blu (like the ox)…Ok, now to buy it. We had to track down an associate like hunting big game in the jungle, but we finally tagged one only to have him say, “Ugh, let me go see if I have one in stock.”

HA! Told you! And no he didn’t have one in stock.
So here I sit on Miz Pearl with her screen flickering and her wireless coming and going and I curse at a world that makes it so hard to buy a laptop. Then again being the optimist I eternally am, I am convinced I was thwarted for a good reason…now I just need to figure out what that reason is.

Just Peacey,


*dog staring: the act of watching a working guide dog as if it were some alien. There are two different types of dog staring, a) flesh eating alien and b) cuddly Ewok alien.
*dog weaving: the act of veering away or toward a working guide dog while in a very busy store directly into the path of an oncoming cart wielding woman that has little or no tolerance for such actions putting both cart wielder and dog weaver in danger of collision.