Pixel Scroll 2/3/16 Superscrollapixelistbutextrabraggadocious

(1) THANKS FACEBOOK. Pat Cadigan joined the legions who have committed this social media gaffe — “Happy Birthday, Sorry You’re Dead”.

Well, it happened again…I wished someone a Happy Birthday on Facebook and then discovered they had passed away last year. This is what happens when you have an impossible number of Facebook friends, most of whom you don’t know personally….

Anyway, thinking or not, I have committed a birthday faux pas. And as usual, I feel awful about it. When the person’s loved ones saw that, they probably wanted to go upside my head. Because that’s how it is when you’re on the sharp end of a disaster, whether it’s something of epic proportions or the personal loss of a beloved friend or relative. Your life has changed forever, and yet the world goes on like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Like, WTF? The stock exchange opens and closes. The sun rises and sets and rises again. People go to work, go home, go grocery shopping, go online, tweet, check Facebook––and they can’t even take a few extra minutes to find out if someone’s alive or dead? Seriously, WTF?

(2) THANKS TSA. James Artimus Owen shared a memo with his Facebook readers.

Dear TSA – I’m breaking up with you. It’s you, not me. Or anyone else you and American Airlines conned into this big threeway. We were awesome dates, going along with everything you asked for, giving you sweet, sweet lovin’, and lots of money, and always on time, and you didn’t care. You still just wanted me to get half undressed, and to feel me up, and poke me in my special place, and go through all my stuff – and then your drunk buddy American Airlines overbooked the flight…, and complained about carryons, and then broke their own damn plane while we were sitting here. And now someone is trying to “fix” things, but the air is off, and we have to sit here for another half an hour, and the paperwork is going to take longer than the repair. So, I just wanted you to know – I’m getting a private plane. With my own crew. And you can date my “people” but I’m not taking my belt and shoes off for you again just so you can lecture me about the difference between 3.5 ounces and 11 ounces.

(3) HOW DID SOME GOOD NEWS SLIP IN HERE? Hobart and William Smith Colleges (in New York’s Finger Lakes region) have announced that Jeff VanderMeer will join the Trias Residency for Writers for the 2016-17 academic year.

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer

Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula Award, and three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books, including the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (“Annihilation,” “Authority,” and “Acceptance”), released in 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The trilogy explores, among other issues, environmental degradation in extremis, creating, as the New York Times puts it, “an immersive and wonderfully realized world” with language that is “precise, metaphorical but rigorous, and as fertile as good loam.”

During the residency, VanderMeer will teach one class in the fall of 2016 and work with a number of select students the following spring. Additionally, he will offer a public reading and lecture, participate in a service event for the greater Geneva community and curate a reading series featuring Dexter Palmer (who writes sf), Ottessa Moshfegh and a third writer to-be-announced.

Beyond his work on campus, VanderMeer adds that he is looking forward to “a creative writing visit to the super max prison [in Auburn, N.Y.] and a possible partnership with the Colleges’ environmental center.” He has also invited artist John Jennings, a professor at University of Buffalo, to visit in the fall of 2016 “for some cross-media conversation about narrative and creativity.”

…The Peter Trias Residency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is designed to give distinguished poets and fiction writers time to write. Academic expectations allow for sustained interaction with our best students while providing the freedom necessary to produce new work. Residents are active, working artists whose presence contributes to intellectual environment of the Colleges and the town of Geneva.

(4) MORE THAN MONEY. “Stephen King On What Hollywood Owes Authors When Their Books Become Films: Q&A” at Deadline.

DEADLINE: So rather than making the old deal, with big upfront money, you figure you’ll make your money on the other side?

KING: The other side of this, too, is that if you do that, you can say to these people, what I want is a share in whatever comes in, as a result, from dollar one. So it isn’t just a creative thing, it’s also the side where I say, if you want to do this, let me make it easy for you up front and if the thing is a success, the way that 1408 was a success for the Weinstein brothers, then we all share in it together. You know, of all the people that I’ve dealt with, Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the ones who were most understanding about that. They were perfectly willing to go along with that. A lot of people feel like you want to get in their business. I don’t want to do that at all. I want to be part of the solution. There were things about the 1408 screenplay that I thought were a little bit wonky actually, you know. There’s a part where you brought in the main character’s sad relationship about how his wife had died, she’d drowned, and he was kind of looking for an afterlife a la Houdini. I thought, well this seems a little off the subject. But it was great in the movie.

DEADLINE: So you’re not an author who feels that what’s in your book is sacrosanct, even when it’s translated to the screen?

KING: No. And the other thing is, you start from the belief that these people know their business. There are a lot of writers who are very, very sensitive to the idea, or they have somehow gotten the idea that movie people are full of sh*t. That’s not the truth. I’ve worked with an awful lot of movie people over the years that I think are very, very smart, very persistent and find ways to get things done. And I like that.

(5) TIL DADDY TAKES THE T-BIRD AWAY. From The Guardian: “Elon Musk personally cancels blogger’s Tesla order after ‘rude’ post”.

Unimaginable wealth has brought Elon Musk a lot of benefits, from being able to build a private spaceflight company to planning a magnet-powered vacuum tube supersonic transport system between LA and San Francisco – and be taken seriously. But perhaps the best perk of being Elon Musk is the ability to be unbelievably petty.

The Californian venture capitalist Stewart Alsop learned that to his cost, he says, after he wrote an open letter to Musk about the badly run launch event for the Tesla Motors Model X (the newest car from Musk’s electric vehicle startup).

Headlined “Dear @ElonMusk: you should be ashamed of yourself”, the letter listed Alsop’s issues with the event: it started late, it focused too much on safety, and it was so packed that even people like Alsop, who had placed a $5,000 deposit on the car (which was originally supposed to ship in 2013, but had only delivered 208 cars by the end of 2015), didn’t get the chance to test drive it.

Alsop concluded that “it would still be nice if you showed some class and apologised to the people who believe in this product”.

Instead, Alsop says, Musk cancelled his pre-order.

(6) HARTWELL OBIT IN NYT. Here is the link to David G. Hartwell’s obituary in the New York Times.

Mr. Hartwell worked at several publishing houses before starting as a consulting editor at Tor/Forge Books in the early 1980s. At his death, he was a senior editor there. He was nominated more than 40 times for Hugo Awards, among the most prominent prizes in science fiction, and won three times for editing.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor, said in an email that Mr. Hartwell had edited and published hundreds of books, including Mr. Dick’s novels “The Divine Invasion,” “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer” and “Radio Free Albemuth,” as well as novels in Mr. Herbert’s “Dune” saga and Gene Wolfe’s “The Book of the New Sun” series.

He also compiled dozens of anthologies, many with Ms. Cramer, including “The Space Opera Renaissance” (2006) and “Spirits of Christmas: Twenty Other-Worldly Tales” (1989), and he wrote “Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction” (1984).

Mr. Hartwell championed genre fiction long before crossover hits like the “Lord of the Rings” films, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” broadened its audience.

(7) BERKELEY AUTHOR APPEARANCE. Carter Scholz, author of Gypsy, Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Lucky Strike, and Terry Bisson, author of Fire on the Mountain, at Books Inc. in Berkeley, CA on February 18th.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

(8) DOLLENS ART REMEMBERED. Ron Miller’s post at io9 has a gallery of “Scenes from the 1950s Space Movie That No One Saw”.

Morris Scott Dollens is best known to aging SF fans as one of the most prolific space artists who ever lived.…

These three interests—-astronomy, photography and model-making—-led to an endeavor that that was especially close to his heart: The creation of a movie that would take audiences on a journey through the solar system.

It was to be called “Dream of the Stars,” and Dollens created dozens of meticulous models of space ships and alien landscapes. He assembled these into tabletop dioramas which were then photographed in the same way Hollywood special effects artists would create miniature effects scene. Dollens sent these photos to magazine and book publishers, who ran them with captions that declared that “Dream of the Stars . . .is said to be best space film yet.” I remember seeing these photos in books about space when I was a kid and desperately trying to track down this movie. It wasn’t until decades later, when I contacted Dollens while researching my book, “The Dream Machines,” that I finally learned the truth: that “Dream of the Stars” was just that: a dream.

(9) HAT TIP. The New York Post noticed a fan favorite is back — “’X-Files’ tips a (straw) hat to iconic ’70s TV character”.

The latest episode finds FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) interrogating a person of interest, Guy Mann (Rhys Darby), as they hunt for a reptilian “were-monster.” Mann’s quirky attire — straw hat, seersucker jacket and cheap knit tie — bears a striking resemblance to clothing worn by Carl Kolchak, the rumpled creature tracker played by the late Darren McGavin in the 1970s ABC series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

The homage to McGavin’s vampire- and werewolf-hunter is intentional.

(10) HINES ON REPRESENTATION. Suvudu interviewed “Jim C. Hines on Representation and the Seeds of Possibility”, and Jim made his case in a lucid and fair manner, as he always does. It’s not his fault that his examples play so well against the next item in today’s Scroll….

I don’t understand why this is such a heated topic, but people get quite distraught when you suggest our genre should be more inclusive. Just look at the attempted boycott of Star Wars for daring to cast a woman and a black man in lead roles, or the oceans of man-tears surrounding Mad Max: Fury Road and its competent and kick-ass protagonist Furiosa.

Imagine the backlash to a science fiction show in which the main starship crew—the captain, first officer, navigator, engineer, and doctor—are all women. The only male character is basically a switchboard operator.

(11) TIMING IS THE SECRET. Who knew Ghostbusters will be putting Jim’s example to the test? “Receptionist Chris Hemsworth is Here For You” at Tor.com.

Last night Paul Feig announced that the official Ghostbusters site is up and running, with the first trailer set to drop later this month. If you poke around on Ghostbusters.com (which also has pages for the original movies), you’ll find a new batch of images, featuring the ladies in civilian garb… and their adorable receptionist, played by Chris Hemsworth.

You know how there’s that silly TV/movies trope of putting glasses on a girl to make her less attractive? Yeah, that definitely doesn’t work here.

(12) CHATTACON REPORT. Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds writes about “The Importance of Community”.

Do we need Cons like ChattaCon today?  Aren’t SF fans all shut-in introverts who make snarky anonymous comments on blogs and YouTube videos?  Even if we do need communities, couldn’t we move the Con experience to the internet, where we’ve moved so much of our communal interactions in the 21st century? A ChattaCon Report While the internet is great (you’re reading it!), I think physical meetings are still an essential part of community.  To make my case, consider some of the things I did last weekend:

…One of the guests was Larry Correia (of the Sad Puppies).  I went to one of his panels with a few friends.  Given my opposition to the whole Sad Puppy fiasco, I was wondering what he’d be like in person.   Answer: not all that different than most author guests, although nobody asked him about the Puppies.

(13) SHOCKING. Max Florschutz at Unusual Things calls it “The Indie Scam”.

There are a lot of blogs, posts, and news articles out there decrying the pricing of the big publisher’s books. They make regular appearances on smaller author’s sites, reddit’s r/books, and very frequently in the circles of indie authors. “Publishers are making their books too expensive!” they cry. Look at the price of these books!

…Then came the bit I didn’t agree with. That everyone should flock (and was flocking) to ebooks and indie because the prices were so much better.

The problem is, this isn’t always true….

Let me tell you a story. About a year ago, I was attending a con and talking with a bunch of authors about ebook sales and indie publication. One man in the “group” we’d sort of formed in the hallway was a known trailblazer in the ebook world, one of the first authors to jump ship from his publisher and go straight indie, a decision that had been great for him. Naturally, he being the one with the most experience in success, everyone was letting a lot of questions and comments gravitate his way.

At some point, ebook pricing came up, and I mentioned I was trying to figure out a price for the draft I was about to finish. He shrugged and said it was simple, and asked me how long it was. 300,000-odd words, I said. Eyes wide, he shook his head, and then told me the best way to sell a book of such length:

Cut it up into 8 or 10 sections and sell them for $2-3 a pop.

This, readers, is what I’ve started to see as “The Indie Scam.”

You see, as already mentioned, a lot of indie authors will decry the cost of “big pubs” and their ilk. Like the classic meme, they repeat the line that the prices are “just too d**n high” while showing that their books are so much cheaper at their low, low prices.

But are they really? Well, in a lot of cases … no. And that’s the problem. It’s a misdirect. Because a lot of these indie books? They’re a lot smaller than what they’d have you believe.

(14) RABID PUPPIES TODAY. Vox Day’s picks for the Rabid Puppies slate in the Best Fan Writer category are Jeffro Johnson, Dave Freer, Morgan, Shamus Young, and Zenopus.

(15) KEEPING THE WARDROBE BUDGET DOWN. Den of Geek asks: “Saturn 3: the 1980s’ weirdest sci-fi movie?”

Saturn 3 wasn’t exactly the sci-fi blockbuster its makers might have hoped. Neither broad and upbeat like Star Wars nor as claustrophobic and disturbing as Alien, it instead became one of the great oddities of 80s science fiction. This is, after all, a movie which features such bizarre lines as “No taction contact!” and “That was an improper thought leakage.”

Then there’s the bizarre scene in which Kirk Douglas (nude, of course) chokes out Harvey Keitel after he utters the line, “You’re inadequate, Major. In EVERY department.”

Saturn 3’s by no means a classic, then, but it is undoubtedly one of the most weirdly fascinating sci-fi misfires of the 1980s.

(16) DON’T ORDER THE SOUP. Gizmodo touts a photo series created by Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong.

A lovely shepherdess in a flowing white dress tends to her flock in these gorgeous photographs reminiscent of a fairy tale. The twist: the shepherdess is underwater, and her charges are white-tipped reef sharks.

The image is part of the latest series from conservation photographer Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong, who has a bit of an adventurous streak, taking his models into the field for a bit of storm-chasing and to underwater shipwrecks—all in the name of capturing that perfect shot. This time, he took model Amber Bourke to Fiji, a hot spot for ecotourism specializing in shark dives.

But his focus isn’t on thrill-seeking or purely aesthetic pursuits; in this case, he wanted to draw attention to the plight of sharks worldwide. “Sharks are almost always depicted as menacing and terrifying, yet it is humans that are responsible for killing them in the millions just to make soup,” he wrote on his blog. “I wanted to create a series of images that would help break those stereotypes.”


[Thanks to James H. Burns, David K.M. Klaus, John King Tarpinian, Jeff VanderMeer, Susan Toker, Moshe Feder, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Stick.]

221 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/3/16 Superscrollapixelistbutextrabraggadocious

  1. This was the first year in a while that I skipped Chattacon, and it was because they invited Correia as a guest. I guess you could say my canine allergies were acting up.

    For whatever it’s worth, King Bob, I attended a local comic last year (Rose City) that Larry attended and never so much as saw him, as far as I know.

  2. Cherryh is taking the Foreigner series in a new direction after the next book (which is the meeting with the kyo, and whatever agreement they reach – plus, I hope, sorting out the various problems still on the station).

  3. @IanP:

    I try. 🙂

    I actually got sick of the whole “not everything on the Limbo list is unread” problem and split it into limbo-read and limbo-unread. That doesn’t solve the problem of the uncounted bundles, but it does give me a solid figure of 1665 books on my Mount TBR, not counting books that I haven’t logged on GR.

    BTW, speaking of ebooks, here’s some depressing news for Viggle users. I know there are a couple of us hanging out here, and I just found some of this out yesterday…

    Viggle’s ebook pricing skyrocketed recently, going from 3,000V/US$1 to 20,000V/US$1. In other words, someone who regularly hits Viggle’s 12K points/day cap has just gone from earning US$4 in ebook credit every day to a whopping US$0.60. (For comparison, watching one minute of a regular TV show earns 1V, clicking an ad is typically worth 20V, and answering a trivia question gives 50V.)

    Further, the conversion of Viggle points to Perk points is not going to be pretty. It’s been announced as 20V=1P, and people with high Viggle balances (like myself, at over 3.5m) won’t be able to convert their entire balance at once. The standard conversion rate is 60,000V/month, but there are ways to convert faster. (Earn 1,000P to convert another 20,000V.) I suppose it makes sense in terms of cushioning the blow that would otherwise result from hordes of people cashing out on Day One, but it’s still no fun for the users.

    On top of that, the Viggle digital store will be going away soon (to return “later” as a revamped Perk store), so download your Viggle music and ebooks now if you want to make sure you have access to them in the near future. (This is why de-DRM software is necessary! Even their Tor books are delivered with Adobe DRM.)

    Perk does have its advantages, I suppose. For instance, I think I can now reliably earn one $10 Amazon gift card per week with just the existing apps. Still, that’s a rough transition, and I wish I’d known about the price hike in time to plunder my wishlist at the cheaper pricing!


    @Kurt: I’ve run into Larry at both of the Libertycons he attended, and I traditionally attend Opening Ceremonies as well as the Meet & Greet right after. Not encountering a Chatta/Liberty GOH is the rarity for me. Further, if I attended, I would’ve been staff, which means I would’ve had to chose “polite” over “honest” if Certain Topics came up. I opted to leave the can of worms tightly sealed.

  4. I once described the Foreigner books to friends as “The West Wing, with aliens.” Seriously, there’s little actual “action” in most of them, and it generally occurs elsewhere (Bren’s bodyguards do the dirty work). One book was pretty much whether an atevi from the south would show up to sign a trade agreement. They’re an acquired taste, maybe, but still one of the better examples of human/alien relations.

  5. @snowcrash:

    “self-contained duologies” – Oooh, ooh! Please read the Dreamblood duology by Jemisin. It’s, to me, her best work.

    I’ll take that under advisement, thanks. I couldn’t get into the sample of The Fifth Season (but probably will try again at some point). Anyway, I’ll check out the “Dreamblood” books when I (eek) get a chance; the description sounds interesting, and I’d like to try something of hers.

    BTW I know self-contained duologies exist. I just want there to be more of them and more of a variety. 🙂 I mean, they’re not as rare as stand-alones, I guess! But they don’t seem common.

    @Petréa Mitchell: The Duncan duology sounds interesting as well, thanks!

    @Rev. Bob: I’m picturing books magically making a line across a hallway, and you limbo’ing under them.

  6. @JJ: “NO. Oh, no. You are NOT going to sucker me in further, Mister.”

    LOL! I wish I could find my squee e-mail. I should re-read these books. I won’t try to convince you more! Hmm, the ebook’s only $1.99. (whistling)

    I found Strauss’s reply to my e-mail, which, re-reading, makes me blush; I forgot how interesting and friendly she was. Sometimes I feel like the kid failing English lit here at File 770, compared to some of the long, interesting posts analyzing books here. I’m not that articulate, which is fine, but I occasionally I wish I were more so, when a book comes up that I read and loved. So I was chuffed, as the kids say, by Strauss’s reply to me, 9 or so years ago, where she said, among other things, that I totally got what she was trying to do (obviously, I must’ve articulated it better than usual “C” work, heh).

    Sorry if this sounds bragging (more a bit of envy + book love + author admiration). I definitely gotta re-read Strauss’s “Arata” books, though. 😉

  7. For a 2015 YA UF artist book check out Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older.
    Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world.
    It’s on my shortlist. It blew me away.

  8. @Rev. Bob: “BTW, speaking of ebooks, here’s some depressing news for Viggle users….”

    A-ha. Hadn’t read this comment of yours before I asked you about this very thing in the Neveryon-Neveryon thread.

    I thought I was very clever in finding a book they hadn’t hiked yet when, amidst all the 215,000 point books (or whatever) I found THE WITCHES OF LYCHFORD for 62,500. But I had forgotten to check the page count.

    I very much enjoyed WITCHES though, so no regrets about picking that up.

  9. The plan is to make the Belter meetups a regular, every-other-Wednesday kind of thing. Nick won’t be here for the one on 2/17 (he’ll be off discussing Season 2 with production folks), but we’re planning to have the meetup anyway.

    If you’re in the area, please join us!

    Also, a recent episode of Geek News Radio had an interview with Nick Farmer, in which he also talks about the meetups.

  10. Rev Bob: I picked up a couple of packages of d6 at the dollar store, some all-white, some colored, and so our dungeon master uses them to mark out antagonists. It means we can have up to six white die antagonists (with pips 1 through 6 uppermost), and then we have to go to colors. “I’m attacking blue #1”. Cannonfodder are white dice (with overflow to other colors), and enemies of note get colored dice. It works pretty well, and he doesn’t need to have a giant supply of minifigs. (Also, one of our party members doesn’t use an official minifig; he uses a teddy-bear button that came off his toddler’s clothes, with a twist-tie to make it stand upright.) And we use a particular red d12 to stand in for a Flaming Shere. Which is to say, improvised figs are the norm for our group.

  11. @Nicole:

    As a little bit of Perk/Viggle comparison, I offer the following data. Short form: If you’re slick, you can earn equivalent points a lot faster by using Perk. Long form… keep reading. (Everybody else – if you aren’t interested in the Viggle or Perk rewards programs, just skip to the next comment. Trust the Bob.)

    Maxing out on Viggle for a day gives one 12,000 Viggle points, the equivalent of 600 Perk points, which equates to US$0.60 if you buy gift cards. That usually takes me a few hours, depending on how hell-bent I am on hitting the goal and how balky the app is about giving me ads to tap. (Lately, it’s been a habitual goal; I feel like I’m slacking off if I don’t hit the max.)

    In the Perk ecosystem, if I put some effort into it, I can make over five times that. At midnight Friday morning, I had 8810 Perk points. By 4am, I’d reached 10K – which I immediately cashed in for a $10 gift card, which I should get by email on Monday. Two days later, my balance is already over 5400 points. This is significantly higher than I’d expected; my goal was to find a routine that would yield about 10K points/week. (That requires about 1500 points/day for a seven-day Perk week, or 2000/day if I take weekends off.) Then again, I’ve been unusually aggressive during those two days, so that’s not a typical result.

    See, Perk doesn’t have a point cap, so the big limit is effort. I have an old Android tablet running the Perk TV app right now, which means it plays an ad or two, followed by a video of some random length. That gives me 1-3 points, then the cycle repeats. You can rate videos good/bad to get 50 tokens each time, which is mainly useful as a way to interact with the app – because if you don’t touch anything for a couple of hours, the app pops up an “are you there?” alert that you have to dismiss before it’ll resume the cycle again. In my highly scientific “watch my balance while I compose this message” study, Perk TV generates about 50 points/hour – so getting a hundred points per day is as easy as starting the app once and leaving it alone. I’ve been doing that much since hearing that Perk was acquiring Viggle. These days, if I’m awake, the tablet is plugged in and running that app, and when I go to bed, I put the tablet to sleep and start it on my iPad. It’s free points, but a low rate for minimal interaction. (Inside tip: You don’t have to let the entire video play. If you tap the bottom of the playback window and controls come up, tap near the end to skip over most of it. Perk cares about you seeing the ads, not the videos, so doing this can up your earn rate. Higher interaction, higher rate.)

    My main app, though, is Perk TV Live, which reminds me of a stripped-down Viggle. You tell it what you’re watching (TV show or movie), it verifies the audio, much like Viggle does, and then it tries to auto-detect commercial breaks so it can play its own ads at you during them. I find the detection to be unreliable, and I haven’t gotten the app to work at all on the Android tablet, but you can tap the screen to manually make it play a block of ads. Each block is 1-6 ads, 15-30 seconds each. Your first 100 ads of the day (starting at midnight Central) pay 3 points each; after that, the value drops to 2. That’s per ad, not per block; if I keep bashing the “play ads” trigger, I can get through those first 100 ads in about 45 minutes with about two dozen taps. That’s the equivalent of 6000 Viggle points in well under an hour, a rate I’ve only attained with high-value HGTV trivia. Assuming the app plays nice, you’re tapping the screen once every couple of minutes. Much easier than pounding away at Viggle!

    If I use the Perk TV Live app on one device from 8pm-1am (while watching TV during the week), taking the “100 ads in 45 minutes” as my baseline, and assuming 30 total nonproductive minutes, that’s 1300 points (300 + 5*200)… not far from that magic 1500 figure. Letting the other app run while I’m working will more than close that gap.

    I can easily see settling into a 2000 points/weekday routine. I can then do on weekends what I’ve been doing while writing this comment: let Perk TV do its thing for free points, and otherwise do whatever I like. My big complaint about Viggle was that you couldn’t earn extra points early if you wanted to take a vacation; that’s no longer an issue. Yeah, the 20:1 conversion rate sucks, and having to look up your show in the Perk TV Live app isn’t fun (something I expect will improve with Viggle’s code), but that’s about the only downside I see.

    Once Viggle 3.0 comes out, I’ll be able to use the 10K/week I want to earn as my baseline to convert another 200K of Viggle points over, then redeem that 20K of Perk points for a $20 gift card. I can do that every week for at least four months, when my stockpile of Viggle points finally runs out. (Current balance: over 3.5M.) That’s a $320 payoff, which ain’t too shabby. I can buy a few books with that…

  12. @Rev. Bob – Useful stuff, thanks! I knew you’d have good tips.

    I presume one can buy gift cards or charge up a Perk Plastik card that will allow one to keep feeding the “I bought these ebooks/audiobooks with POINTS!” habit? (I’m not hearing anything particularly concrete about the supposedly upcoming Perk-style replacement for the Viggle store.)

  13. @Nicole:

    I’ve been buying Amazon gift cards at a rate of 10,000P = US$10, but the other gift cards are the same rate. (Well, cards under $5 cost more.) Perk’s talking about a short-term 18% discount on Plastik for Vigglers, which would be a 9,020P = US$10 exchange rate, but I’m leery of possible hidden fees. You can also cash out to PayPal, but there’s a steep premium; the most favorable rate is 133,000P = US$100.

    So, yes, you can keep feeding the “buy ebooks with points” habit with Perk even if they never get their private store up and running.

    Oh, and FWIW – my current balance is 6981P. 😉

  14. I see the Rewards exchange also includes B&N gift cards at the same exchange rate as Amazon, too.

    Unfortunately it looks like I won’t be able to run the Perk apps family on Bluestacks – they don’t seem to function as well as Viggle (PerkTV persisted in being unable to load its video; PerkTV Live couldn’t verify a program for love or money), and while both Perk and Viggle seem to frown upon using emulators, Perk’s actually got “using VMs like Bluestacks, VMware, etc” in its FAQ under “Why was my accound suspended/reward cancelled?” So I may just have to stick with Viggle and points conversions, at least until I break down and acquire a real smartphone (do not want!) or tablet (the same, but less vehemently). Or until that rumored future Windows version that runs apps natively.

  15. I’m with you on not wanting a smartphone. I work from home and live in a cave; I’m almost never without wifi connectivity, and I usually don’t want to be connected while I’m out. (Plus, data costs!) However, I love having a tablet. My old Android tablet is pretty chunky, but it has the benefit of a keyboard dock that features two USB ports and real keys. Its real operating system comes in handy, too; I hooked my external hard drive up to it last night because I’d forgotten to move a file over to my main USB stick. Plus, I can use the touchpad to move the mouse pointer exactly where I want it to interact with Perk TV; there’s a specific location where I can click (once the video allows it) to bring up the scrollbar, click again to jump close to the end, and click a third time if I want to thumbs-down the video for tokens.

    My iPad mini, though… that’s practically glued to my hand. It’s small enough to take almost anywhere, but big enough to use comfortably. I do my ebook content editing on it, because I can easily highlight a phrase, add a note, take a screenshot, and keep reading without missing a beat. If I’ve got a few minutes, I can edit a couple of pages. It doesn’t have a USB port, but I’ve got a couple of apps that let me interact with my wifi-enabled USB drive almost as easily.

    You might be surprised how handy a decent tablet can be.

  16. Rev Bob

    AOL that. I bought an Android Pro Tab for the purpose of putting my sheet music into it (I actually finished scanning everything in my black book day before last, so I’m down to two physical repertoire books and the tablet), but it’s also better for movies, photos, and books than most anything else I have. The laptop’s screen is bigger, but it’s not convenient to carry around, for instance.

  17. @Kip:

    I have a vague notion – not really enough to call a “design” – for a portable media device. There’s been some neat work done on flexible-substrate OLED tech, and I wonder how feasible it would be to mount a good-sized screen on a roller… like an old-fashioned projector screen. Build the driver tech (processor, ports, battery) into the ends, add some fold-out struts for rigidity…

    Probably wouldn’t want to go above a foot long, but with a 16:9 aspect ratio, that’d be about a 24″ screen. I could certainly deal with that. 🙂 If you wanted to get really slick, the firmware could even allow you to pull out only part of the screen for different ratios/sizes. For instance, treating the hardware edge as the bottom instead of a side would mean you could expose the first seven inches of the screen for a 13″ 16:9 display, or nine inches for a 15″ 4:3 screen.

    These are the sort of thoughts I have when I let my mind run away with me. It’s right up there with my dream of a PC that consists of a chunky USB stick that you plug into a docking station that provides power and the UI (screen, keyboard, mouse). Carry it around, use it anywhere that provides stations.

  18. Now, I did just discover the perk.tv website. Works just like the PerkTV app is supposed to, only it’s in your browser. Been running it on the old laptop in the background; suppose I could run it on the current laptop simultaneously, since Perk is all generous about that.

    Also the good folks at vigglerumors got me entering the occasional Perk Code into a browser window at perk.com/code, after I installed the Perk add-on to firefox.

    I might someday acquire a used tablet for cheap, but the idea of buying a thing so I can do free things rather irks. Yes, this is me grumbling about the kids these days and their fancy tablets and iphones and their apps that don’t have computer-friendly versions dangit a laptop computer was good enough for grandma get off my lawn while I yell at the clouds some more.

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