Pixel Scroll 3/22/17 I Scroll The Pixel Electric

(1) BATTERIES INCLUDED. The BBC reports plans for a short-distance electric passenger plane:

A new start-up says that it intends to offer an electric-powered commercial flight from London to Paris in 10 years.

Its plane, yet to go into development, would carry 150 people on journeys of less than 300 miles.

Wright Electric said by removing the need for jet fuel, the price of travel could drop dramatically.

British low-cost airline Easyjet has expressed its interest in the technology.

“Easyjet has had discussions with Wright Electric and is actively providing an airline operator’s perspective on the development of this exciting technology,” the airline told the BBC.

Chip Hitchcock adds: “Note the caveat of battery tech continuing to improve at its current rate. Reminds of the beginning of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, where the computer says there won’t be famine because matter transformation will be invented in a few years.”

(2) AND THEN I WROTE. In “Using Twine @TwineThreads”, Camestros Felapton gives a demonstration of the interactive story-writing software, amply illustrated by screencaps.

The software doesn’t present you with much: a simple screen with limited menu options. However, this really encourages you to jump straight in, start a story and start typing.

(3) FEWER BOOKS, MORE BOOZE. No, I’m not talking about Raymond Chandler. I’m reporting the observations by Barry Hoffman, publisher of Gauntlet Press, in his March 22 newsletter —

Late last year Barnes & Noble opened a new “superstore” in Eastchester, New York. The store features a full-service restaurant which serves alcohol. And, the store will be 20-25% smaller than its traditional superstores.

Normally, this news would be taken with a yawn (there are other such B&N superstores). But the sad fact is that B&N is responding to Amazon.com by adding a restaurant and cutting the number of books that it will carry. As it is B&N stores in Colorado Springs (where our offices are located) already devote a lot of space to other items besides books. The two stores in Colorado Springs have a Starbucks (a smart idea, in my opinion and it doesn’t take up all that much space), a large display for their Nook device, games, toys and other non-book related items. Since the price of these non-book related items are just as or more expensive than at nearby competitors such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Toys R Us it makes little sense to squeeze out books for them.

The B&N’s here used to sell CDs and DVDs but at a premium price which made no sense since there were competitors selling the same items at a greater discount. It seems that the B&N philosophy is to add these products and now large restaurants to their stores rather than come up with innovative approaches to selling books. To me this doesn’t seem the ideal approach to competing with Amazon.com.

(4) PAY THE WRITER. Lucy A. Snyder aired a grievance about MARCon, the annual Columbus, OH convention, in a public Facebook post.

Several people have asked me if I will be attending MARCon (Multiple Alternate Realities Convention) this year. I will not. As much as I would like to support one of the few remaining local Columbus conventions, I can no longer do so.

Last year, Marcon staff contacted me about leading a couple of writing workshops. We negotiated the same kind of deal as I had arranged for instructors at Context: they would charge for the workshops, and I would get half the fees with a minimum of $50 per workshop.

The convention completely failed to promote the workshops ahead of time, and didn’t even put an information page on their website so that I could promote them myself. They assured me that they would promote the workshops at the door and that I should plan to lead them, so I did my usual preparations.

Unsurprisingly, nobody signed up for my first workshop; I arrived at the expected time and then left when it was clear nobody was coming. They did sell several seats to the second workshop, and so I led that as expected. Aside from my time, my own costs to offer the workshops included $30 in parking garage fees, which I had expected to cover with the $50 for the workshop.

(I had expected a lot *more* than a net of $20, but I adjusted my expectations downward after I realized I wouldn’t be able to adequately promote my sessions. $20 was still better than nothing.)

A few months after the convention was over, I queried the staff who had recruited me to see when payment would be forthcoming, and received no reply.

Later, I forwarded the agreement to the programming email address with an inquiry, which also did not receive a reply.

Most recently, I forwarded the agreement to the convention chairs’ address; it’s been over a week and I haven’t gotten a reply.

So that’s three times I’ve emailed various staff, with zero replies from anyone. Not a “We’re working on it,” or a “The check’s in the mail,” or a “We’re kind of broke and need more time” or even a “Screw you, Snyder, we’re not paying you squat!” Nothing.

I’ve also talked to a Marcon volunteer who spent $120 on convention supplies and was promised reimbursement; so far, the convention has blown off her queries, too.

I would not be surprised to find out that other volunteers who were promised reimbursement of their registration fees have not received them.

The upshot is that Marcon appears to have become the kind of convention that won’t always honor its financial commitments.

There were other problems at last year’s convention that soured me on the experience, but failing to uphold business agreements and refusing to reply to communications is a definite deal breaker for me.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 22, 1931 – William Shatner

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY STARSHIP CAPTAIN

  • Born March 22, 2233 – James Tiberius Kirk.

(7) SCALZI INTERVIEW. The Verge asked the questions and got this answer: “Sci-fi author John Scalzi on the future of publishing: ‘I aspire to be a cockroach’”.

The author of Old Man’s War and The Collapsing Empire lays out his plan for his 10-year book contract, and the future of science fiction publishing….

With concerns about publishers dying off, it’s intriguing that Tor is making this long-term commitment.

I think there’s a number of things going on there. I do think it was signaling. It is Tor and Macmillan saying: “We’re going to stay in business, and we’re going to do a good job of it.” This is part of an overall thing going on with Tor. Tor recently reorganized; brought in Devi Pillai [from rival publisher Hachette]; moved Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who’s my editor, from senior editor to associate publisher; brought in some new editors and some other new folks; and Macmillan basically gave it a huge vote of confidence.

It’s been fun and fashionable to talk about the death of publishing, and certainly publishing has had “exciting times,” I think that’s the euphemism we want to use, over the last decade. But the people who are in it do feel optimistic that not only are they going to be around for the next 10 years, but that they are going to do what they have always done, which is to bring exciting stories and people into the market, to keep people engaged in the genre, and to be a presence….

Did you just describe yourself as a cockroach?

I am a cockroach. I aspire to be a cockroach. But in all honesty, what that means is that as a writer, you have to recognize that nothing lasts and things change, that there’s no one time in the history of publishing where everything was one way, and then all of a sudden there was change. It’s always changing. So we will definitely try new things to see if they work. And if they don’t, you don’t do them again, or you wait for the market to come around to them again, whatever. I’m totally open to that…

(8) BOOK HEAVEN. Real Simple lists the best bookstore in every state.

When you think of a great local bookstore, you probably single it out for its conscientious curation, enthralling events, and splendid staff. But what makes a bookstore go from great to one of the best in America? We partnered with Yelp to explore the best independent bookstores our country has to offer. There are no chains on this list. Using an algorithm that looks at the number of reviews and star rating for each business, Yelp singled out the top bookseller in each state.

In California, it’s Century Books in Pasadena.

(9) SAD PUPPY SADNESS. On Twitter, SF/F author Matthew W. Rossi thought Declan Finn was telling him that it’s not that big a deal he’s going blind. Apparently that’s not what Finn meant:

(10) INSIDE THE SHELL. Ghost in the Shell (2017) – “Creating The Shell” Featurette.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, rcade, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

247 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/22/17 I Scroll The Pixel Electric

  1. How do I do this?

    Choose Recents to see your recent calls, click the circled i next to a caller, scroll all the way down and choose Block This Caller. You’ll be asked to confirm you want to block them. If you do, you are transported instantaneously into an alternate universe where that number never calls you again, and in the time you’ve freed up you write a novel.

  2. A thing nobody else commented on in Vox’s froth: tens of thousands of people who hate us as much as we hate them?

    In my case, this is untrue because if they hate me (Even as part of the nebulous SJB* contingent of SJW companions, as one of them feminists, or even the wildly open-ended “liberals”), that’s a lot more than I feel for them.

    Hate is a strong word. I hate the actions and the results of those actions of Trump’s cabinet and I hate the current Republican reflexive penchant for shrugging off starving kids and dying people and poisoned world as exaggerations that The Market will fix (or if it doesn’t, it’s their fault for not trying hard enough). But even at thast, I cannot muster personaal hatred for most of them. The RP contingent of frothy extremists trying to crap all over SF muster at best the vague disgust earned by any dog not yet paper-trained.

    Hate? nope.

    * Just because I’m playing a dwarven warrior in the current RPG doesn’t mean I’m not totally a bard IRL)

  3. Greg: So the fact that I didn’t read this thread in timely fashion yesterday means I tacitly approve of the excess snarking at airboy (Or his own subsequent meltdown)?

    Silence does not mean approval. I am aware that the assumption it does underlies the need for bystanders to speak up (Thus I appreciate that you DID), and I am at least a little wary of saying anything that will prevent bystanders from thinking that speaking out is important, but I also bristle a little at extending that assumption so far it looks like being effectively told I was complicit in something I was not necessarily aware had happened.

  4. @Lenora Rose

    Yes. Hating random strangers or whole groups of people takes more emotional effort than I can muster. I can’t really imagine wanting to hate a group of people: think of all the emotion wasted that I could be using on things I like.

  5. @Lenora Rose

    A thing nobody else commented on in Vox’s froth: tens of thousands of people who hate us as much as we hate them?

    Well, we know that Teddy is prone to hyperbole, so I think we can conclude that there are dozens that hate us, but it runs right into the central logical fail that the Puppies and the Gamergaters put themselves in: the idea that there are two organized invested sides in the fight. When in reality, there is Beale’s sad echo chamber and then literally everyone else. So every ‘battle’ he wages is against a creation of his own imagination, while it is simply the response of people who aren’t pricks for the sheer sake of being pricks.

    Let’s be honest. This entire scenario is yet another pathetic railing against Scalzi using his vanity publisher. Scalzi, who can’t even be bothered to even acknowledge him any longer. His crew can’t handle the idea that they aren’t locked into some kind of war with the SJWs because that identity is the only thing that internally validates them. They can’t allow themselves to understand that the vast majority of the people who have every heard of them laughs that their sad battles as opposed to their idea that they are as dedicated to this fight as they are.

    I mean, who takes seriously a publishing house that releases a book with a parody cover from a much more successful writer and then claims it’s been released as a serious piece of fiction as opposed to a shady, two-bit scam?

  6. Wait, what? I recently went from a dumb-phone to an iPhone (well, about a year ago, but still) and I didn’t know this was a feature.

    I don’t know if this is a feature on the iPhone, but I go beyond having a blacklist for my phone and have a white list–the phone allows through only the numbers from an approved list, and by default denies all others.

  7. re: phone spam.

    Nomorobo. I highly recommend it. The service works with a lot of telephone service providers. Sadly, it does not include AT&T’s cell service. However, I just discovered that they have an iOS app!

    In any case, this service has dramatically reduced the number of spam calls we get.

    As a bonus, you can add numbers to the nomorbo and as a result, you help the rest of us receive fewer calls!!

  8. Greg Hullender: Regarding airboy, looking back at the entire thread, I think he was genuinely trying to offer help to Rev. Bob, and people jumped on him for no reason. I know he has a reputation as a gadfly, but in this case, I think he’s owed an apology.

    On numerous occasions here at File770, airboy has proclaimed his “expertise” on various subjects, while simultaneously posting demonstrably wrong information. It is not “jumping on him for no reason” to point out that the advice and information he is offering is wrong and/or useless.

  9. @Meredith

    Re: bookshops

    Foyle’s in London also used to contain Silver Moon Bookshop after it had to abandon its own premises because of rising rent prices. They had a focus on feminist books, and they had some excellent and unusual stock. Sadly, eventually they closed entirely. A 187 year old theatre bookshop, Samuel French’s, is closing its doors in April. London’s brutal rent is killing London’s more unique charms.

    I remember the Silver Moon Bookshop from when it had its own premises on Charing Cross Road, right next to an Islamic bookshop. I also remember Samuel French’s. I bought a theatre script that I needed for university there that no other store had. Charing Cross Road and London’s West End in general had a lot of gems in those days, including the used bookstores with rickety stairs leading down into multiple levels of mazelike catacombs. No idea how any of those places ever passed a fire inspection, but I loved them anyway and found lots of treasures there.

  10. @JJ – your claiming that I lack expertise in something is hilarious!

    Come talk to me when you get your Ph.D., author a hundred double-blind refereed publications, get on actual editorial review boards, get certified as an expert in multiple issues in federal or state court, or do much of anything else that shows some accomplishment.

    I’d love to see you pass comprehensive exams!

    I wish you could teach a skill that helps hundreds of your students earn 100k+ a year!

    You can also talk to me when you run a successful business for several decades.

    You really are a piece of work. But you are the “expert” in everything! I’m only an expert in a handful of areas.

  11. @Meredith: I should have checked Wikipedia; they confirm that French is a company with US and UK divisions. Thanks for the article; it sounds like the services will continue. (They would have been mail-order for a long time before the web appeared.)

    @Heather Rose Jones: interesting tack. I’m just the opposite: the landline number goes to everyone/everything asking for one (and I check the machine once or twice a day for actual messages) while the cellphone number is much more restricted so there’s a chance of a call while I’m driving being worth pulling over for.

  12. @Dann: Interesting thing, that Nomorobo. And they block political spam calls! Now if only they included charity calls. Legal or not, I never want those spam calls. I’ve never donate to a charity because they cold called me to pester me with a sob story. Anyway, thanks again; this is tempting – I’m going to mention it to my other half.

  13. @Cassy B.: Thanks, BTW. I checked and the quote above really was “trouble with my husband”; I’m guessing auto-correct struck again! Now that you tell me it’s “head-set” – I haven’t gotten that particular one (methinks), but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of it. Also thanks for the warning re. not saying yes/ok/sure. I’m a little skeptical, but on the other paw, as you say, that sounds like the kind of dirty trick someone would do.

    I try to engage as little as possible – no point in talking or arguing or responding if they say “oh but we don’t have to put you on a do not call list because XYZ.” Just my “putmeonyourdonotcalllist” as fast as I can, hang up, and enjoy life. 😉

  14. airboy: JJ — your claiming that I lack expertise in something is hilarious!… <pompous recitation of supposed credentials>

    And yet your advice about the Do Not Call Registry was wrong and useless in Rev. Bob’s situation. And I, and Aaron, and other Filers have had to correct your wrong “expert” opinions on numerous occasions in the past.

    As I’ve pointed out to other people who brandished credentials at me in an attempt to persuade me that I should overlook any problems in what they said: I base my opinions of peoples’ expertise on the correctness of what they say, and not on how “expert” they tell me I am supposed to believe they are. 🙄

  15. Vox Day on March 24, 2017 at 6:52 am said:
    a mentally ill individual

    SOMEone’s trynna press some BUTtons.

  16. @Nigel:

    Yep, he reminds me a lot of Milo YannotheguyImean that way. Poke, poke, poke, then scream theatrically about being attacked if he manages to provoke the reaction he’s going for.

    Me, I just find it astounding how much effort he and his minions have put into hating me and spinning wild theories about the astonishingly complicated plot that must’ve driven me to… click on a preview, read the first few lines, and dash off a two-sentence negative review.

    Everything that has happened after that has been of their own doing. If I hadn’t received a phone call, I wouldn’t have mentioned it here, updated the review to document the incident, or reported the interaction to Amazon. If VD hadn’t confirmed it on his blog, I wouldn’t have been able to show that page to Amazon as evidence that the call really happened. And so on, and so forth. With every move he makes, he digs himself an even deeper hole.

    I guess some people just can’t take even the mildest criticism. Let’s face it, “poorly edited” is hardly a scathing review when it comes to indie ebooks. (Don’t forget that I mentioned the editing while praising Lallo’s “Big Sigma” books right here on 770.) If I’d really wanted to dig deep, I could’ve kept reading to review the full preview in detail… but I really don’t care that much. I’ve got better things to read. There’s this one superhero series about a guy who controls dairy products…

    VD and his minions cannot seem to abide calm, evidence-based disagreement. Knowing that, it’s funny – one might even say relaxing – to watch them attempt to bait me into losing my cool. I don’t care what they think of me, and I know nothing I say would change their opinion, so why bother getting worked up about it?

    tl;dr – Trolls gonna provoke. I can react by getting emotionally involved, or I can step back and say, “I see what you’re doing. Good luck with that.” I’ve chosen the latter.

    I’m lucky enough to be relatively privileged in this situation, in that there’s not a lot they can really do to me. The stakes on my end are low. If it keeps on, though, CH has a lot to lose. Amazon could well decide that the hassle isn’t worth it and pull their books. They do tend to take a dim view of vendors harassing long-time Amazon customers.

  17. Let’s face it, “poorly edited” is hardly a scathing review when it comes to indie ebooks.

    I bought an e-book a few weeks back that’s not bad – but it definitely needs porrfriding. (Steampunkish alternate-universe, set partly in the Congo in the 1890s: Red Jacket by Mark Bondurant.) That need is the worst I can say of it.

  18. @P J Evans:
    I bought an e-book a few weeks back that’s not bad – but it definitely needs porrfriding. (Steampunkish alternate-universe, set partly in the Congo in the 1890s: Red Jacket by Mark Bondurant.) That need is the worst I can say of it.

    Unfortunately, that’s increasingly common. Proper proofreading costs money, and publishers are skimping on it to cut costs.

    I’m on a mailing list, most of whose members are in publishing, as authors, editors, agents and the like. One member was VP of an editorial production house that provided copy editing and proofreading services, and was unhappy that it increasingly wasn’t done. Another was an editor at a major trade house, who said “But such things are part of the book’s budget, and are always done!” “Maybe they still are in your shop”, was the reply, “but I’m the one here talking to customers who used to pay us to do that for them and don’t any more.”

    Worst offenders are likely the Amazon Kindle editions produced when enough folks click “I’d like to read this book in a Kindle edition.” There often isn’t an existing electronic manuscript to start from, so a copy of the paper book is shipped to Hyderabad, India, where an outsourced operation scans it, converts to text via OCR, and packages the result as a Kindle file. Proofreading is not done, and whatever the OCR produces is what gets sold. OCR has gotten steadily better, but you do still need to proof the output. Amazon didn’t, the last I knew.
    ______
    Dennis

  19. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but in the past CH has used the early customers for final proofreading. You buy it. You read it. You file a bug report. They change it in Book 1.1.

    Waiting for the day when publishers offer you credit for each error you’re the first to find. I can see it becoming a competition. Desperate out of work editors and proof readers racing through the latest potboiler so they can be the first to find another there/their/they’re mistake. Maybe Amazon can set up something on mechanical turk site.

  20. @DMcCunney:

    That’s definitely not a problem limited to small publishers. Whoever had the responsibility of making ebooks from Stephen King’s backlist really dropped the ball. Skeleton Crew was an absolute nightmare in that respect – as opposed to being scary for the correct reasons! 🙂 I remember that in “The Raft,” one character’s name kept getting rendered incorrectly, and it was plainly due to bad OCR.

    Whatever bad things I have to say about Orbit’s handling of Tom Holt’s catalog, the text was pretty clean. They messed up when it came to the metadata, mixing half a dozen books into an unholy mess by using the same titles and/or ISBNs. That’s annoying, but it’s not really a time-consuming fix.

    @Jack Lint:

    Man, I would clean up if that happened. There’ve been times that I’ve found upwards of four mistakes per page – and that’s treating “this happens a lot, so do a global search” cases as one error.

    Speaking of pages, that’s one of my beefs with Kindle-published short fiction. Too many of those authors jack the line spacing up to where the book’s effectively double-spaced. That’s how they get a 50-page count with less than 10K words; Amazon bases the count on page turns at certain settings, and a hardcoded line-height setting will inflate that. I get that it looks bad to hawk a 15-page short story at $3, but the solution isn’t to increase the count by padding the settings.

  21. DMcCunney on March 25, 2017 at 1:29 pm said:
    In this case, it’s (self) published through Smashwords.

  22. @JJ–

    As I’ve pointed out to other people who brandished credentials at me in an attempt to persuade me that I should overlook any problems in what they said: I base my opinions of peoples’ expertise on the correctness of what they say, and not on how “expert” they tell me I am supposed to believe they are. ?

    In this case, he’s not even brandishing credentials. We just have an anonymous person making claims about what credentials they could be brandishing.

  23. @Rev. Bob:
    That’s definitely not a problem limited to small publishers. Whoever had the responsibility of making ebooks from Stephen King’s backlist really dropped the ball. Skeleton Crew was an absolute nightmare in that respect – as opposed to being scary for the correct reasons! ? I remember that in “The Raft,” one character’s name kept getting rendered incorrectly, and it was plainly due to bad OCR.

    And a reason to proofread. No, the problem isn’t limited to small publishers, and bites all over. Offhand, I suspect small publishers may do better in this respect. You survive as a small publisher by selling quality work to specialized markets, and you have an incentive to insure production quality as well as quality of content.

    Too many of the big houses appear to have decided that fiction is disposable, and the audience either won’t notice or won’t really care. Margins are paper thin, and proofreading is a place to cut costs.

    Whatever bad things I have to say about Orbit’s handling of Tom Holt’s catalog, the text was pretty clean. They messed up when it came to the metadata, mixing half a dozen books into an unholy mess by using the same titles and/or ISBNs. That’s annoying, but it’s not really a time-consuming fix.

    I managed to miss that. My SO is a big Tom Holt fan, and purchased an assortment of his titles in hardcover from Amazon, UK, but metadata errors weren’t a factor.

    Speaking of pages, that’s one of my beefs with Kindle-published short fiction. Too many of those authors jack the line spacing up to where the book’s effectively double-spaced. That’s how they get a 50-page count with less than 10K words; Amazon bases the count on page turns at certain settings, and a hardcoded line-height setting will inflate that. I get that it looks bad to hawk a 15-page short story at $3, but the solution isn’t to increase the count by padding the settings.

    A late friend was doing pretty well taking public domain stuff from places like Project Gutenberg and issuing them as paper editions. A lot of folks out there wanted actual physical books, and the stuff he offered was long out of print in paper. He was a capable typesetter, and played various games to pad physical page counts on shorter material, simply because a paper edition needed to be a certain size to sell, and buyers would balk if the book was too thin with too few pages, even if the content really only required that much.

    But as a rule, I don’t buy from Amazon unless there is no other option (like getting British editions from Amazon UK,) and I don’t get Kindle editions in any case. I read eBooks on an Android tablet, and vastly prefer ePub as the format.
    ______
    Dennis

  24. @P J Evans:
    In this case, it’s (self) published through Smashwords.

    And the author relied on spell checking for proofing? Common error, alas. (And a reason to get someone else to review the manuscript, too. You’re too close to it, and know what it’s supposed to say. You can miss glaring typos because your mind auto-corrects as you read.)

    But it can get comical. The late John Brunner told a story about a novel of his full of stuff he knew a copy editor would want to “correct”. It was in the days when manuscript submission was still hardcopy. So he printed the submission draft, and went through and carefully circled every occurrence of the phrases he knew would likely be “corrected”, and wrote “STET!” in the margins before shipping it off. When he got the galley proofs to review, sure enough every instance had been “corrected”. We had to conclude the the copy editor at the publisher didn’t know what STET! meant.
    ______
    Dennis

  25. @Dennis:

    I’ve actually been buying Kindle versions and converting to EPUB for a few months now, and I like how it’s been working. I use Calibre for the conversion and to pick up metadata (particularly the description, which not enough people include when making the ebook), and although it has a few flaws, it’s a fairly good process. Having a nice GUI metadata editor is really handy; I only wish it didn’t lard the OPF file up with all that Calibre-software-specific gunk.

    (Orbit and Tom Holt)

    This particular mess was a few years ago, when they converted his backlist into ebooks. I remember that at least three books called themselves You Don’t Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps and two others were given the same ISBN… which affected the Adobe ebook delivery. I had to go a couple of rounds with the now-defunct store to get it straightened out. My best guess is that the person responsible took the sensible step of creating a template for that info, but neglected to correct those fields on that handful of books. If you’re distracted, it’s very easy to mistake a placeholder title/ISBN for the real thing.

  26. Come talk to me when you get your Ph.D., author a hundred double-blind refereed publications, get on actual editorial review boards, get certified as an expert in multiple issues in federal or state court, or do much of anything else that shows some accomplishment.

    Ahh, so you’re DOCTOR Pseudonym.

    As long as you’re a pseudonym, you can claim to be a doctor, a lawyer, an Indian chief, the King of All Bees or whatever, and no one has any reason to believe you. Getting angry because people you’re covering with while masked don’t invest your pseudonym with the respect you feel is due it for accomplishments you have divorced yourself from by using a pseudonym won’t get you anywhere — you’re the one who’s chosen to be pseudonymous, after all.

    That’s not an argument that you should use your real name, though — if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. It’s just one of the things that goes along with being a pseudonym on the internet.

    Nobody knows you’re not a dog, either.

  27. @Rev. Bob:
    I’ve actually been buying Kindle versions and converting to EPUB for a few months now, and I like how it’s been working. I use Calibre for the conversion and to pick up metadata (particularly the description, which not enough people include when making the ebook), and although it has a few flaws, it’s a fairly good process. Having a nice GUI metadata editor is really handy; I only wish it didn’t lard the OPF file up with all that Calibre-software-specific gunk.

    Calibre is my tool of choice, too. I actually began using it to do eBook format conversions, but went the other way.

    My first eBook reader was a Palm OS PDA. I got it over 15 years ago, when my then employer decided IT staffers should have PDAs, and one landed on my desk. I looked around for things I could use to assist me in my work as a sysadmin, and found an open source offering called Plucker, which was an offline HTML viewer for PDAs. The Plucker desktop could pluck web pages and convert them to a form viewable by the Plucker viewer on device. It supported color, embedded images, table of contents, and custom fonts. A lot of the documentation for stuff I used was in HTML format, and Plucker Desktop could convert local HTML too. I could carry a documentation library in my pocket. It didn’t take long to discover I could read other things that way, so a good bit of Project Gutenberg joined the party, and I accumulated about 4,000 Plucker documents.

    Palm OS was the first target for early French eBook publisher MobiPocket, who Amazon bought and whose eBook format became the basis for Kindle editions. (Kindle files show vestiges of that legacy, in things like 64K record sizes and the compression method used.) There was a Mobi viewer for Palm devices, and I had the last offered version installed.

    I still have a working Palm TX, and had a few things in ePub I wanted to read on it, but Palm went belly up before ePub existed, so no ePub viewer. Calibre to the rescue, and ePub converted handily to Mobi. Given my choice, I get ePub, and other formats only if there isn’t an ePub version. (Often, the only option is PDF, which I don’t try to read on my tablet.) Experience so far tells me ePub is the preferred archive storage format, since it converts most readily to other formats if needed.

    These days I have an extensive eBook library managed by Calibre. Calibre began as a conversion tool – Calibre author Kovid Goyal had a Sony Reader, but Sony at the time only offered content in a proprietary format you could only get from the Sony Store. Kovid reverse engineered the Sony format and wrote software to get things into that format so he could read them on his Sony Reader. It kind of grew from there… 🙂

    Kovid was a PhD candidate in Computer Science when he began writing Calibre. He has his PhD now, but never had to find a regular job. While free and open source, you can donate to Calibre if you like it, and he gets enough donations that Calibre development is his full time occupation these days. (Living in India with much lower costs helps.)
    ______
    Dennis

  28. Come talk to me when you get your Ph.D., author a hundred double-blind refereed publications, get on actual editorial review boards, get certified as an expert in multiple issues in federal or state court, or do much of anything else that shows some accomplishment.

    So tell us your real name and where you have been certified as an expert so we can verify your wild-ass claims.

  29. airboy:

    “Come talk to me when you get your Ph.D., author a hundred double-blind refereed publications, get on actual editorial review boards, get certified as an expert in multiple issues in federal or state court, or do much of anything else that shows some accomplishment.”

    Also show your certificate as Emperor of America and Protector of Mexico.

  30. @Dennis:

    I have a pair of Palm T3s here – one for work and one for personal stuff. I still prefer SmartList over any database software I’ve found for my iPad, so that’s how I keep my DVD/Blu-ray collection sorted.

    I do have a couple of gripes with Calibre, but it works pretty well. Every once in a while, I spend a few minutes wondering where the cover page template is stored, as I’d like to replace it with my own version.

  31. I’m … amused … that any small-scale publisher/author would have problems with errors; I’ve done free copyediting on a book I was interested in, and volunteered for another (as commented here a few months ago) with no response. This isn’t a you-get-what-you-pay-for issue, and doesn’t require friends; maybe some publishers/authors figure their readers won’t be jarred by awkwardness, or aren’t willing to take even the small amount of time to collate several responses? OTOH, it also isn’t a new problem; Teresa Nielsen Hayden was commenting at least 20 years ago on the decline of the in-house copyediting department and the resulting variability in books from major publishers.

    @DMcCunney: Brunner somehow had the worst luck with copyeditors; he used to flame about them in The Alien Critic. I’d be suspicious about the number of incidents, but I have an example of one of the worst: in the original edition of The Shockwave Rider some induhvidual (obviously not reading for sense) decided Jake & Josh Treves were a typo and converted all of one to the other, requiring the character to be in California and Kansas simultaneously.

    @Hampus Eckerman: an unfair comparison; Norton I was entertaining and loved.

  32. Rev. Bob on March 25, 2017 at 8:24 pm said:

    I have a Palm Tungsten E2 with my genealogy database – there’s an ancient program that can take the data-exchange file (which is tagged text) and convert it to one that the PDA can handle, although it’s read-only.

  33. “@Hampus Eckerman: an unfair comparison; Norton I was entertaining and loved.”

    True that. I visited his grave in 2006 to put down some flowers.

  34. @Rev. Bob
    I have a pair of Palm T3s here – one for work and one for personal stuff. I still prefer SmartList over any database software I’ve found for my iPad, so that’s how I keep my DVD/Blu-ray collection sorted.

    Another old timer. :🙂

    I had Smartlist at one point. It was the best of the Palm OS DBMS offerings. I haven’t found a good one thus far for Android. Given that Android includes and uses SQLite, that’s kind of inexplicable. It’s not merely open source but public domain, and anyone could grab it and put a custom wrapper around it to make a decent DBMS program.

    I also have several non-working Tapwave Zodiac 2 devices I need to try to ransack to make one working one again. Tapwave was trying to create a combo Palm PDA and handheld games machine, but never got the critical mass of gaming outfits on board. It has 128MB RAM, two SD card slots, Yamaha stereo sound, and a screen driven by an ATI Imageon W4200 graphics processor with 8MB dedicated RAM with 2D acceleration. Tapwave misunderstood their market. Had they pushed it as a handheld media device, they might still be with us. There were reams written about how to rip DVDs to a form you could put on a SD card and view on the Zodiac.

    (And I’m configuring a new desktop. I need to install the Palm Desktop software and the beta driver for 64bit Windows that will let it connect and Hotsync.)

    I do have a couple of gripes with Calibre, but it works pretty well. Every once in a while, I spend a few minutes wondering where the cover page template is stored, as I’d like to replace it with my own version.

    The Calibre support forum is on MobileRead.com and Kovid hangs out there. A question in that forum about where Calibre stores the cover page template ought to get a quick answer. (Disclaimer: I am New York Editor at MobileRead.)

    @Chip Hitchcock:
    Re: copy editing/proofreading OTOH, it also isn’t a new problem; Teresa Nielsen Hayden was commenting at least 20 years ago on the decline of the in-house copyediting department and the resulting variability in books from major publishers.

    Yeah, I know Patrick and Teresa, and live in walking distance of Tor’s offices. I’ve heard her commentary in person, and she knew whereof she spoke.

    Brunner somehow had the worst luck with copyeditors; he used to flame about them in The Alien Critic.
    Given the issue you recount, I don’t blame him. I’ve seen other examples, that tend to reduce to “The author is a subject matter expert in the topic of the book, which is why they could get the book published. Please don’t try to correct subject specific usage by an author who has forgotten more about the topic than you will ever learn…”

    @P J Evans:
    I have a Palm Tungsten E2 with my genealogy database – there’s an ancient program that can take the data-exchange file (which is tagged text) and convert it to one that the PDA can handle, although it’s read-only.
    Which database software and which conversion program?
    ______
    Dennis

  35. @Dennis:

    I gave up hotsyncing years ago. I use a 1gb SD card in each T3, along with backup software. I should probably make fresh backups soonish and copy both cards to a safe place, just in case. In fact, now that I no longer have to separate the devices for tax purposes, I could just consolidate all the useful data (i.e. not the time-clock records) onto one card and “retire” the other T3 so I can have it available as a spare device. It ain’t like they’re making any more of ’em!

    Meanwhile, I’m almost done with the last “short story” (more like a novella, I think) in the “Big Sigma” collection. The first two shorts deal with the funks, and this one’s about how Garotte and Silo fell in with Karter. It’s about as close to pure milSF as the series gets. It’s a good and long collection – Amazon lists it as almost 1500 pages, but my calculation based on the print lengths of the three novels puts it closer to 1150 – so while I certainly intend to read more of the series, it’s time to switch things up and cleanse the palate.

    In other palate-related news, I discovered tonight that it’s possible for Kool-aid style drink mixes to expire. I’ve had to toss some in the past because they clumped up and wouldn’t actually dissolve in water, but this was the first time I’d encountered powder that Just Plain Went Bad. Maybe it had something to do with the artificial sweetener, but I took one sip and literally had to cleanse my palate with a new batch. Yuck.

  36. @Rev. Bob
    I gave up hotsyncing years ago. I use a 1gb SD card in each T3, along with backup software. I should probably make fresh backups soonish and copy both cards to a safe place, just in case. In fact, now that I no longer have to separate the devices for tax purposes, I could just consolidate all the useful data (i.e. not the time-clock records) onto one card and “retire” the other T3 so I can have it available as a spare device. It ain’t like they’re making any more of ’em!

    I very seldom hotsynced back when Palm was still a more-or-less going concern. Most of what I wanted on device lived on an SD card, and it was simpler to pop the card from the PDA, stick it in an adapter, and drop stuff in the appropriate location on the card from the desktop.

    But the Palm Desktop software still runs, and a beta driver from a New Zealand outfit lets Hotsync work on 64 bit machines. It’s not something I really expect to use, but I prefer to have the capability available Just In Case.

    And the Android tablet has mostly subsumed the functions I used to perform on the PDA.

    I read a fair bit of MilSF, but am deliberately trying to reduce the backlog of other stuff (measurable in round thousands), so it’s non-fiction at the moment. Current read is Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy, with his Understanding Media likely next.

    If I could learn to read a separate book with each eye, I might slow the growth of the backlog. I tell folks the nice thing about eBooks is that you don’t call the EMTs if my To Be Read stack topples over on me. 🙂
    ______
    Dennis

  37. DMcCunney on March 26, 2017 at 7:20 am said
    The conversion software is Gedstar Pro – they now have one for Android, and the Palm version is discontinued, although they might still be willing to sell it to you (I do have it, of course): http://www.gedstarpro.com/
    Database software – any genealogy program should be able to produce the export file, as it’s a standard format (the one I’m using is RootsMagic, currently v7.x).

  38. Rev Bob – VD and his minions cannot seem to abide calm, evidence-based disagreement.

    Why should they? You win internet arguments – and they’re all arguments – using tactics and tricks and shouting. Most calm discussions about anything will result in agreement, or agreement to disagree, but there’s no fun in that.

    Anyway, well done. You owned the high road here.

  39. Up to a point, pseudonymous claims must be taken on trust in order to facilitate internet conversation. What they can’t be is proof of anything significant, or worth much as a boast. I could create a sock puppet, claim to have a Ph.D – how would anyone know whether it was true or a lie? Opinions and suggestions must stand on their own merits and whatever evidence can be provided to support them.

  40. I remember.

    I remember it all like it was yesterday.

    I was scrolling the pixel, as one does, when I came across a procession: six tiny forms, human-like, but not. Each resembling a melted candle figurine of homo sapiens-sapiens – squat and distended and repugnant in the caricature. Atop each misshapen head sported a plume of shocking colored hair, no two the same shade.

    Between them they bore a box – coffin shaped it was but covered in stickers like a steamer trunk – here a PhD in Mu-an Literature; there a certificate, from the courts of Prester John, attesting expertise in Atlantean Geology; and so forth and so on. Alighted like a leaden dove a-crest the trunk-coffin was an open topped crown – thin, light, and tall as if suited to shaping a hair spout like those of the bearers.

    Slowly I watched them lower their burden into the hallowed ground of a long dormant thread about ancient cheeses and their relation to modern courtship rites. Reverently they interred it there where no new post was belike to disturb it.

    No tale teller I.. still I had to share this with my friends. Then the greater wonder yet was seen. I had barely related this account when a lurker, hitherto recumbent and silent, made himself known to us. His voice BOOMED like a shout in a mountain hall: “Then I am King of the Trolls!” and, in a flash of erratic punctuation and smoking gerunds, he was gone.

    My mind sometimes still turns to that lonely regent and where he may now be. Though perhaps, in a way, he is within each of us.

    I see your doubts but this I vouchsafe on my reputation as a pseud.

    My tale is done.

  41. Have installed Nomorobo on Filer recommendation. Things are good. Bad calls blocked (they show up in the “Answered” call log at Xfinity) and good calls go through. Might even start answering the landline going forward–I mean, when it rings more than that one time you hear before Nomorobo answers it.

    Many thanks! Also, through the process of installing Nomorobo we got acquainted with the Xfinity interface for call logs, call blocking, checking voice mail, and setting preferences like “how many rings before voice mail picks up?” (Four. The correct answer is four. Five is all wrong) that I never knew existed because apparently I’m a Luddite when it comes to phones. So thanks for that too!

  42. Re phone spam: For our landline we use PhoneTray Pro, which works with your desktop. They have a database of established spammer numbers that will never even ring thru, and you can also block numbers at your own discretion, with the option of reporting them as spam or not (aka you don’t need to report your annoying brother-in-law’s number as spam to block him from calling you). It also comes with a variety of messages; the default is the official “this number has been disconnected or is no longer in service” tones and message, but among the others are “We are no longer accepting calls from this number” and Gandalf saying, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” And it keeps a log of numbers that have called you (or tried to call you).

    For our cellphones we use the Advanced Call Blocker app, which has very similar features (minus the multiple messages, alas).

    I generally don’t add a call to the block list without Googling the number. If the first hit that comes up is on 800notes.com — oh hell yeah. If not, I assume it was a wrong number unless/until it happens more than once.

  43. @Lee: LOL, I want to use PhoneTray Pro solely for the Gandalf “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” message. 😀

  44. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for March 2017 | File 770

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