WoB Talk

January 3, 2016

Wacom Pen Tablets: The Gift That Keeps on Taking

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 9:17 pm

Dear Wacom:

I know there are people who sigh sentimentally when they hear your name and gush about how they still use the first Wacom pen tablet they ever bought back in the Cretaceous or something, and it’s made of dinosaur bones and rainbows and has always worked perfectly. I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong: I couldn’t get on without my Wacom pen tablet. That, in a nutshell, is the problem. Because I need the tablet every day, it all gets a little bit problematic when the damn thing goes mad suddenly and without warning. This happens far more frequently than it should.

Here is my Wacom history:

Wacom #1: Graphire (now discontinued). Worked for a year or two, then stopped.

Wacom #2: Bamboo (now discontinued; basically the same thing as the Graphire but with a completely inexplicable name). Worked for two or three years, then started behaving oddly. During this time, I had to replace the USB cable six or seven times, as after a few months of use, any cable would inevitably become loose and jiggly and lose its connection every time the tablet moved slightly.

Wacom #3: Another Bamboo. Worked for maybe two years, then died. Same problem with the cable.

Wacom #4: Yet another Bamboo (a quite old one, possibly even a Graphire, but bigger than the others I’ve owned), though to be fair, this one was inherited from someone else and was acquired after I had purchased Wacom #5. Wacom #4 lives in my office and still works…I think.

Wacom #5: Intuos 5 Touch. Technically a better tablet than the Bamboo, but had ever so many more problems. The cable still needed to be replaced every few months. In addition, the driver decided it did not like my computer, my copy of Photoshop Elements, or, in fact, me. A good quarter of the time, I would turn on my computer and get a “Tablet driver has stopped working” message. The only way to fix this would be to reboot, though that would only work occasionally. Sometimes, I had to reboot seven or eight times in a row. If I was using Photoshop, I would only be able to let my computer go to sleep once; if it did so more than that, the tablet would lose its pressure sensitivity, and I would have to reboot. Occasionally, Photoshop would simply “stop working” in the middle of a session. I know this sounds like a Photoshop problem, not a Wacom problem, but none of this happened when I was using the Bamboo.

Today, two and a half years into its reign, my Intuos decided that it was going to go crazy. It started clicking on everything, drawing random lines across my comics, and working only when it felt like it. I tried a different cable, and the problems remained. Though I really did not want to buy yet another Wacom (yes, I know Wacom does repairs, but I’m pretty sure that sending the damn thing out and paying for the work would take two months and cost about as much as a new tablet), I headed out to Best Buy to pick up:

Wacom #6: Intuos Pro. Luckily, of the three tablets in the store, one of them was an open-box item, meaning it was $90 cheaper than it should have been (all the contents were unopened and, in fact, looked brand new). It took me a good hour and a half to install the driver, as my computer didn’t seem to like it (surprise, surprise). I am not yet sure how this new tablet is going to interact with Photoshop, but we’ll see. The one bright spot thus far is that the damn cable is optional; the tablet is wireless.

Yes, I know I’ve bought too many Wacoms, and I find it kind of embarrassing. However, I do kind of rely on them to touch up and colour my comics. You’ve got a virtual monopoly, Wacom. Good for you. I realise you rely on gullible people like me, but I’m not entirely sure I would be so loyal to you if I didn’t have to be. Someday, someone is going to build a better tablet, and I shall wave you a not-so-fond farewell.

Oh…and have a happy New Year!

Yours behind deadline, mostly because of you,



January 2, 2016

I AM Going to Write Stuff This Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 12:16 pm

It’s January, which means that it’s time to make oneself all sorts of promises that one is eventually and inevitably going to break. I’ve never really been into the whole “resolutions” thing, but that’s okay. The truth is that I really need to write something new, but I never have time to do that. Therefore, I’m going to attempt  Debbie Ridpath Ohi‘s 250-words-a-day challenge, which stipulates that I must make an attempt to write at least 250 words a day at least six days a week. I’m aware that 250 words is less than a page of writing. It’s not my maximum; it’s my minimum. If I choose a higher goal (Debbie also has 500-words-a-day and 1,000-words-a-day challenges), I’ll be fine at the beginning but run into serious problems when the marking arrives, especially considering that I may have up to 291 students this term. 250 words a day should be doable. I’ve already exceeded the goal on January 1 and 2. Yes, I’m starting a new novel. No, I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. It could be terrible. It could be awesome. It could stutter to a halt in the middle of chapter eight. We shall see.


In honour of the writing challenge and the fact that I actually have had a novel accepted and can probably stop sneaking the word “writer” into my bio at the end of a list of the other things I do, I have finally created a “writing” page on my website. There isn’t much on it yet, but oh well.

Now I need to read some science fiction and clean a small portion of my terrible apartment. Have a fun Saturday, everybody.

January 1, 2016

Maybe I Should Start Ranting Again: A 2015 Roundup

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 10:22 am

Hello, everybody. I used to write Rants here, but then I started not doing that any more. Every once in a while, I think to myself, “Maybe I should write a Rant again.” Then I don’t, usually because I have to mark twelve million essays instead. I blame marking for everything.

At any rate, I do have this blog, which actually started out as a comments section for West of Bathurst back when I didn’t quite understand how to make a comments section properly. I’m going to claim that I’ll stop ignoring it, though that may or may not turn out to be true.

Here is 2015:

Wow, 2014 was terrible, wasn’t it? It was grim and dark and full of discouragement, and it felt like being kicked in the teeth by Destiny for 365 days in a row. Surely 2015 will be better. Surely I’ll accomplish something in 2015. I mean, there was that e-mail in December of 2014 from that editor who said he liked my book and wanted to see about publishing it, but I haven’t heard from him since, so that may have been a hallucination. Probably nothing will come of it. I must not be positive about anything. Bad things happen to positive people! If I’m unrelentingly negative, anything good will come as a happy surprise.

Oh, look, I’m starting 2015 by being sick for two weeks. Am I cleaning my apartment? I am not. Am I recording music? Not that either. Have I finished the bonus comic for my giant comics collection, which should have been completed months ago? Of course I haven’t. Now school has started, and my class sizes have gone up, and the students really like their cell phones and do not want to know about academic essay writing. I think I’ll teach myself how to make chainmaille jewellery because I clearly don’t have enough else to do. Thank goodness it’s almost Reading Break.

It’s Reading Break, and I have 150 essays to mark. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow. Maybe I’ll start on Thursday. Reading Break is over, and I haven’t marked any essays. I have finished my comics collection. I bet it will be easy to get that sucker published via an American printer. Oh, hey…what’s happened to the Canadian dollar?

I did some recording! Surely I’ll be able to get a new CD out before that convention in the spring. I’ll be MCing the whole thing, so I should have something to sell.  Look…more marking. What a surprise that is. Here’s a convention at the height of marking terror. Here’s another convention–the one I’m MCing–on the horizon. Is my CD done? Barely…but it won’t be available until the day after the convention is over. Hey, what do you know? Convention #1 gave me the flu right in time for Convention #2, which I shall spend shivering and nursing a splitting headache. I’ll also give the flu to everyone else at the convention, obviously.

Spring is here at last, and so is all the marking ever. I don’t think the marking will ever end. The marking is over! I have one more course to teach, and then–


I am calmer now. I AM NOT CALM AT ALL. The American printer sent me a sample copy of my comics collection, but no one told me it had arrived, and it got sent back again. Delays are everywhere.

There is a bad plagiarism situation that I’m dealing with, and it makes me feel terrible about myself and basically everything else in the world, but I have another convention to attend, this one in Boston. Miraculously, it does not make me sick. Hurrah! My comics collection has arrived, and it looks amazing! Now I must order over a hundred copies of it. Uh…what is going on with the Canadian dollar?

I have lost thousands of dollars on this comics collection. How did that happen? I made a spreadsheet and everything. It had math on it. Time to order the books anyway and organise a mailing party. Mailing parties are a lot of work. There are boxes everywhere, and we have destroyed my friend Kevin’s apartment with our sea of packages.

Summer is over already. My apartment has still not been cleaned. I’ve been nominated for some awards for some stuff. When can I tell everyone about the book? I have already told everyone about the book because I am impatient, but when can I tell Facebook about the book? IT IS TIME TO TELL FACEBOOK ABOUT THE BOOK. Facebook and I are high-fiving each other.

The plagiarism case that started in the spring is finally over. I am having feelings about the plagiarism case, and those feelings colour what turns out to be a brutal stress factory of a term. Look how behind I am on everything. I think I’ll make some more chainmaille jewellery.

I have won a Prix Aurora Award for my music! I have won another Prix Aurora Award for my comic! I have nowhere to put my awards because I have still not cleaned my apartment! I just got a notice from my superintendent informing me that on my birthday, in January of 2016, the building will be sprayed for roaches, which means that I’ll need to empty out all my cupboards and closets and move all the furniture two feet away from the walls. I don’t think that is going to be physically possible. Next term, apparently, I’m going to be teaching up to 291 students, and one of my courses will be one I’ve never taught before. A doctor has given me a prescription for massage because I’m so tense I’ve lost my voice and can feel my face seizing up.

It’s Christmas break at last, and I’m flying to Lethbridge. My niece and nephew have grown and are very excited and bouncy. We are having a white Christmas! I am flying back to Toronto. It’s New Year’s Eve, and I feel as if I have accomplished nothing this year. I know that isn’t true, but it’s how my brain works, and I accept that. Anyway, surely 2016 will be better. Surely I’ll accomplish something in 2016.

Happy New Year, everyone. 2016 will kick us all in the teeth because every year does that, but other stuff will happen too, so hurrah.

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