After a long silence

I think that I'm in a dangerous place in my life right now. I'm happy. I'm comfortable.

I'm not sure that's a bad thing, per se, but it is a dangerous thing. Continue reading…


WordKeeperAlpha update: Ending the long silence

Oif. I did not mean to go this long without an update.  My wife and I purchased a house earlier this month and we’re just getting to the point where we can afford some time in the evening to relax.  I only just got my desk into a state that I can use it… meaning that I still have to put the drawers together, and set up half a dozen other different things.  This all means that I haven’t really done any work on WordKeeperAlpha since … August?  I don’t really know… I’m still kind of exhausted from running around everywhere.  This is the most I’ve written in the last month and I feel terrible about it.

Sigh.

So. Nothing has really changed on WordKeeperAlpha since last months update.  I’m still getting reports of a bug on the Goals and Projects page.  I kind of know what’s causing it…but I also don’t really know how I’m going to fix it yet.  The bug manifests as the page throwing an error and not loading, which is bad.  The good news is, if you come back the next day its worked itself out.  So, if it happens to you, don’t fret!  If you come back the next day you’ll be back in business.  This isn’t saying that it isn’t a priority for me to fix, just give me another week or so to get back on my feet here.

Obviously, NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I want to participate this year.  I have no idea what I’m going to be writing yet, but I’m leaning toward something new, since a month away from Impervious has killed my velocity on it anyway.  We’ll see.  October is starting and I want to get back into things with a 20,000 word month, get all warmed up for NaNo but given all the work around the house that probably isn’t going to happen.  Still, I’m going to get writing again.

I’d like to have the new Goals and the new Projects page live before NaNoWriMo…but wisdom tells me that launching a major new feature right before I’m going to be super busy writing and the site will probably be seeing some of its highest traffic all year is not a smart thing to do.  So, I’ll spend some time in October plugging the holes in the current functionality and maybe toss together that updated About and Home page that I’ve been wanting to do.  Trust me, new stuff is coming and it’s coming soon.  I’ve just been … busy is a woefully inadequate word…but busy.  Now that I have my computer back and a modicum of time, I will be able to keep you better updated as to happenings as well.

So fear not! I’m not gone! WordKeeperAlpha is only going to keep getting better and better, only now I’m going to be working on it from the comfort of my very own house!

Phew! Writing all that was hard work.  I think I need to go lie down for a while.  Probably just go to bed.  See you later, Keepers.


Holy crap… Its the future.

Let me walk you through something.  Its something you probably realize, but maybe just don’t grasp the significance of.  Pull out your phone and take a look at it.  Is it a two year old Android P.O.S. that you got for free with your cell phone contract, or the newest iPhone 6?  Is it just a plain old phone with an LCD display?  Doesn’t matter.  That shit was impossible 30 years ago.  How did you get your news 30 years ago?  TV, newspaper, or radio, I’m assuming.  That or word of mouth.  You kept all your music on tapes that held… 10 songs?  If you didn’t like one of those songs you just suffered through it.  Computer monitors had 2 colors, unless you were really fancy and they had 16.  You stored information on 5 and a half inch floppies.   If you wanted to talk to someone you called on one of these:

Rotary Phone
How does this work again?

Just… think about that.  Twenty years ago, people were just getting online. There was no Google.  There was Webcrawler, which if you were too young to remember it, be grateful.  You couldn’t use the phone while you were surfing the web or checking email because it used your phone line.  You probably had a calculator.  Think about it.  It was probably about as big as your current phone.  If you wanted to find something in a library you still needed to use a card catalog.  If you wanted to buy a book, you went to the bloody store.  You bought things from a JC Penny’s magazine.  You found something in a crappy pseudo-book someone mailed to you, then you called a person up, on that crap phone, with your order between the hours of 8 and 6.  You might have wrote them a check.

Lets go ahead and fast forward to now.  Lets say you have an iPhone.  It has between 3,200x and 26,200x the memory of my family’s first computer.  Want a more detailed look of how far computers have come in 30 some years?  Try this.  Well, that’s comparing the computers of yesteryear, the first personal computers to our modern day smart phones.  If you’ve got a tablet, you’re holding science fiction technology in the palm of your hand.

Your music collection might still be on CDs, but chances are it isn’t.  Even if you still buy CD’s you bring it home, pop the disc in your computer once and put that thing in a digital library that probably contains THOUSANDS of songs.  To listen to any one of them, all you have to do is search, and click play.  Before I went to college, I thought people were lying to me when they said that they could download and watch whole movies, now its rare that I even bother going to get a physical copy of a movie that I want to own.  When I went on vacation as a kid, I had to find room to pack two or three extra paperbacks, just to make sure I had enough reading material.  Now, I have an eReader that currently holds nearly 400 books and it weighs less than a single paperback, takes up less room, and has a built in light, and connects to wireless internet to go and get MORE books.  My first MP3 player held about 13 songs and ran on AA batteries.  My iPad holds thousands of songs, audiobooks, tv shows AND has access to both Amazons library of music AND video AND Netflix … so on and so forth.

Lets talk about maps.  How many of you can find your way from your current location, to somewhere you’ve never been, in a different city, using a paper map?  That’s how my parents used to navigate on family trips, and I have no clue how they did it.  Well, I know how, and may be able to myself…maybe.  But my phone knows where I am and can tell me how to get ANYWHERE.  Most of the time.

We have video watches.

We have honest to goodness cyborgs!

We have machines that can turn human waste into electricity AND drinkable water!

Self-driving cars? On the way.

Private space flight? Check.

Want to do something cool? The average human is your investor now, go and do it!

Sure, back to the future two prophesied that we would have hover boards, flying cars, and Jaws 19, but I think that what we’ve actually got is way better.  Well… Mr. Fusion sure would be nice. Oh.  Wait!  Also, flying cars would be a terrible idea.  I know I don’t want the jack-asses I have to drive with every day in control of something infinitely more dangerous than a car.

So… here we are! The future!  How do you like it so far?  Got any favorites that I missed?  Discuss!


The Dragon That Can’t be Fought

With the demise of Borders, the battle of eBooks is one that is primarily fought between Barnes and Nobles and Amazon. I won't discount Kobo, Sony or Apple, but in my mind they are three minor players in this particular battle. For my own part, I have a Kindle. I've had one for roughly three years now and I love it. If I were stranded on a desert island with only one piece of tech (and a solar charger) I would choose my Kindle without a seconds hesitation. Out of all the little gizmo's I have, it is without a doubt my favorite one. It even beats out the iPad, upon which I am writing this right now.

Chances are though, that if I had a Nook, it would be my favorite device. Really, the eReader itself is just the platform that allows me to enjoy well over 300 books on a device that weighs less than a paperback. I know, I know. Some people will go on and on and on about how you just can't read without the feel of the paper turning or blah blah blah. Sure, your physical book doesn't need to be recharged either…but that's not really much of a concern anymore. I plug the sucker in once a month and I'm good to go, despite how bloody much I can read when I really get into something.

Whether you like it or not, whether you have a Nook, or a Kindle or a Kobo or just use your cheap Android tablet or even your phone, eBooks are here to stay. Here me now, believe me later if you must, but eBooks are to Books, as mp3s were to CD's (as CD's were to tapes). And this is the point: There will always be a place for physical books, but the eBook will be the future, and just like with the music industry dragging its feet when digital music came about, the established publishing industry is having to be dragged into the future kicking and screaming.

Right now, Amazon is using some pretty shadey tactics to dictate its own terms to the publishing industry. Take the recent frakas between Amazon and Hatchet. Its really hard to brand Amazon as anything but the heavy of the piece. Yeah, they might be trying to get a better deal for authors, but they're also trying to get a better deal for themselves, and that's probably the most important thing for them. With every move it makes, Amazon is trying to corner more and more of the eBook market, and largely, its kicking ass.

The major publishers, the Big 6, (or is it 5 now?) don't like this. And I can understand why they wouldn't. Amazon is doing all sorts of crazy shit, like making an all you can read eBook service that tastes a lot like Netflix for books. Lets all remember what exactly Netflix did to Blockbusters for a minute. Anyone been to a Blockbuster lately, except for the going out of business sales? They're offering royalties that make a LOT of authors (myself included) wonder why they'd want to go with a traditional publisher. Not only that, but they're doing their level best to make sure that those same authors keep their books with Amazon as exclusively as possible. They've offered eBooks for a nominal price if you've bought the physical book with them any time in the past. You can RENT school books from them. They just introduced a book crowdsourcing service for indie authors that give some pretty good incentives for non-established authors.

You see that big list of stuff Amazon is doing up above? Every one of those things is something that the Big 6 should have doing. The problems they are having with Amazon being too big and powerful now? Its entirely their fault. Is Amazon right in throwing its weight around? Eh… I don't know. Will we regret it if they get an effective monopoly over the new publishing world. Most likely. Still, if the Big 6 don't like how Amazon is using its power now, they have only themselves to blame.

Seriously guys. This was your game to lose and, lets face it, you're losing. You even had a ready made ally in your corner in Barnes and Nobles. Their entire business was built on selling books… and now its half selling books, half selling other stuff and coffee. Not only that but there's TONS of indie bookstores you could have worked with. A year after Amazon started doing its “buy a physical book and get the eBook for a little more” thing, I still can't go to a Barnes and Nobles, buy the book and also get an eBook sent to me, even if I owned a Nook. That's just plain stupid.

I'll admit, several publishers are coming around, getting wise about how winds in publishing are going to blow. Tor and Baen are getting pretty good in the new digital world, as I would expect from people who publish genre fiction. It used to be you couldn't even buy Baen eBooks on the Kindle, BUT you could buy them from their own site, and all their books were priced damn good, were free of DRM and came in multiple formats. They didn't NEED to work through Amazon because they went and made their own system. If a publisher their size did it, there is absolutely no reason why the Big 6 couldn't have. If readers knew where to get their authors for cheaper, Amazon would lose a lot of its gas. Or at least, it would have.

Instead, the big publishing houses got scared of piracy. They slapped DRM on their books and raised prices because…reasons. I would love a reason from Penguine why the Dresden Files eBooks actually used to cost MORE than the paperbacks. No no… I'll wait. I am a Dresden Files FANATIC and I would have snapped them up without hesitation, even though I already own most of the paperbacks, and some hardcovers. But when you tell me that I have to pay $2 MORE for the eBook than I paid getting the paperback, there's something wrong with your brain. Its mistakes like that and many others that put you in your current position, and Amazon in their's.

I had brief hopes that the book publishing industry wouldn't have to learn the same lessons that the music publishing industry had to learn. Unfortunately, it seems that change is scary no matter what your business in. But hey, maybe its not too late. Like I said, its still your game to lose Big 6. If you want to beat Amazon at its own game you're going to have to start changing your mindset. If you embrace the digital change, start treating your authors better, and start courting the indie, there's no reason you can't take some of your own back. Not that you will… but I live in eternal hope that someone will listen to my advice. Now, if anyone of you is interested in an increasingly epic fantasy about an evil empire cast in the role of the good guys, I will instantly rewrite this to cast you as the hero of the piece. Let me know. I will completely be your bitch for a good publishing deal. Just sayin'. Think about it. Call me. Please?

Alright. Yeah. I'm coming on a little too strong. How about we give it a couple days and see how we're both feeling then?