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. Cassy B. on March 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm said:

    Word to the wise; if you suspect a sales call or robocall, never ever use the words “yes” or “ok” or “sure” or any other form of verbal assent, no matter what innocuous question you’re asked. I’m told (and have no particular reason to doubt) that some unscrupulous vendors will take the recording of you saying “yes” and splice it in as an agreement to buy. And, honestly, even if nobody’s doing it yet, I expect someone will do it soon.

    That is a very real scam. There was a TV discussion about it on our local station, where the police fraud squad explained how it works.
    I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number or the caller ID says “unknown” or “blocked” or some other bogus thing. If I’m bored and looking for amusement I may pick up to hear the pitch. As soon as said pitch starts I say “Do not call list. Put me on your Do Not Call List” and hang up.

    I’m not sure if just putting the phone down and letting the spiel run to completion hurts them by eating up phone time on their end. Any ideas?

  2. I’ve got this great idea for a radio show where random people get phone calls with awful recorded sales pitches. Whoever hangs on until the end goes through to the host, who asks them what on Earth they were expecting.

  3. @Techgrrl1972: It keeps their robo-line tied up a bit longer, so they can’t make another call, anyway. If there’s an actual person there, they’ll eventually notice you aren’t saying anything and hang up, but a bot will just keep saying it didn’t hear you several times before disconnecting.

    Some people put their toddler or pet on the phone. I just let it run till the bot cuts off.

  4. I’ve had that robocall. I only realized it wasn’t a real person when my attempt to interrupt the spiel failed completely. Next time I’ll know. Though my phone has taken to warning me, before I even answer, that calls are probably spam. Makes it much easier.

    And I never answer my house phone. In fact, the ringer is turned off. It’s only there for emergencies.

    Also, this popcorn is getting stale. I think it sat too long on the popcorn truck.

  5. Cassy B.: never ever use the words “yes” or “ok” or “sure” or any other form of verbal assent, no matter what innocuous question you’re asked. I’m told (and have no particular reason to doubt) that some unscrupulous vendors will take the recording of you saying “yes” and splice it in as an agreement to buy.

    Do you remember the big epidemic of telephone service “slamming” that occurred in the late 80s and 90s, after phone services were deregulated? All kinds of fly-by-night companies who subcontracted phone services from the big companies would buy lists of names and numbers from businesses (my health club participated in one such scam for a no-doubt hefty fee, damn them), and then employ telemarketers to call people, promise them big savings on a different plan, and try to get them to agree to switch?

    I must have been on the phone for at least 10 minutes with the person calling the list bought from my health club — but this was before I heard about the slamming epidemic and heard about what was going on.
    Them: “We can save you so much money from current telephone rates! Our service will be much less expensive.”
    Me: “Well, send me a brochure of your rates, and then I’ll decide.”
    Them: “Oh, no, we can just switch you tonight!”
    Me: “No, if your rates are really that good, you can send me a brochure, and I’ll call you back.”
    Them: “Alright, we’ll send you a brochure and go ahead and switch you, okay?”
    Me: “No, you’ll send me the brochure, and I’ll decide after I see it.”

    …and on and on and on. But they couldn’t get me to utter the word “yes” and I kept insisting that they had to mail me the information — and when it finally became blindingly obvious to me that they were trying to get me to agree on the spot and that there was no brochure — which meant that it was going to be a huge ripoff — I said, “Don’t ever call me back again!” and slammed down the phone.

    I found out later about the slamming epidemic, and that those who agreed to switch — and a lot of those who didn’t — suddenly found themselves saddled with outrageous bills for phone service. And when they complained, the scam company would produce a recording of the customer saying “yes” or “okay” extracted from somewhere in the conversation as “proof” that they had agreed to have their service switched.

    Of course, this cut into the big phone companies’ profit margins, so the “service lock” was instituted tout suite, whereby customers had to call their providers and give permission to have their service switched before it could happen.

    So yeah, never utter the word “yes” or “okay” when on the line with a telemarketer.

  6. @lurkertype:
    It keeps their robo-line tied up a bit longer, so they can’t make another call, anyway.

    Alas, that’s not how the technology works. I used to be a systems, network, and telecom admin at a call center. My shop was a market research firm, and we weren’t making sales calls. (The first words out of our agent’s mouths if they got a live human being was “We’re not selling anything.”, ans we did honor Do Not Call registries.)

    I had an assortment of T1 lines to handle outgoing calls. A predictive dialer actually placed the calls, using numbers fed from a database called “sample” in the trade. The dialer could place a lot of calls in a short time period, and could tell whether it got a non-working line, a busy signal, a machine of some sort, or no answer. If a human being picked up on the other end, the call got routed to an agent to speak to them. The calls were sent out over the T1 lines to what is now Verizon, where a big digital ESS5 switch at one of their major central offices handed the traffic off to our designated long distance carrier.

    The underlying technology was digital packets being sent over fiber optic lines, but it wasn’t ethernet and TCP-IP. Specialized telephony protocols were used convert voice calls to digital packets, send them over the network, and turn that back to voice calls on the receiving end.

    Holding on till the spiel finished isn’t really tying up a line or the attention of a human being on the other end. I just listen long enough to determine it is a telemarketer and hang up.
    ______
    Dennis

  7. @Rev Bob

    I just want to applaud your handling of this whole thing. Admittedly it’s a bit easier when VD is being a buffoon who can’t keep his story straight, but even so….

  8. @Mark:

    I find that simply telling the truth makes it a lot easier to keep my story straight. No pesky lies to remember. I’ve also found that, if someone calls me a liar, challenging them to point out my lies is an amazingly effective silencing technique as long as there are none for them to find. Really takes the wind out of their sails.

  9. @Rev Bob. Indeed, truth and straight up facts are easier to remember than a house of cards of lies, half-truths, and misrepresentations. Even a super genius can surely figure that out. Or maybe not. Not all super geniuses are created equal.

  10. Theodore Beale in this comment said: Castalia House appreciates your enthusiastic cooperation with our marketing plan.

    (Insert an image of a raccoon rubbing his little black hands together.)

  11. That’s a laugh. My review consists of the reason for my decision not to buy the book (poor editing), backed up with the specific example that got me to NOPE out. That’s completely within Amazon’s Terms.

    No, it does not. And no, it is not. You are “posing as an unbiased shopper”, but your long history of public criticism of me and of Castalia House conclusively proves that you are not. In the unlikely event that Amazon pays any attention whatsoever to the fake reviews of CORROSION, we will certainly provide them with all your previous comments about me and about Castalia House made here and elsewhere.

    It’s not like they don’t already know you SF-SJWs are biased against us, since they have just had to deal with the SJW employee who blocked our book for spurious reasons four times in 36 hours. You guys can engage in all the wishful thinking you like, but it’s not us with whom they are unhappy. We sell a lot of books through them, which is exactly what they want us to do.

    I later updated the review to include the information that I had received a harassing phone call from someone claiming to be with the book’s publisher, Castalia House. You say – now – that he wasn’t, but that’s after you posted an amazingly accurate summary of the call on your blog, describing it as “excellent customer service.” That’s you demonstrating obvious approval of the call, whether you knew about it in advance or not. In either case, that’s something future reviewers should know might happen to them, so I feel justified in leaving that section of the review in place.

    I am not saying “now” that he wasn’t. That has always been the case. You are attempting to conflate sarcasm and personal amusement with official corporate approval, but my personal blog is not the Castalia House site. Moreover, the fact that you “feel justified” does not change the fact that you are addressing something that is neither the product nor your experience with it. Your review is clearly inappropriate and in violation of the Community Guidelines. A Customer Review is not the appropriate place to discuss the seller, much less your interactions with someone who has no connection to the seller. The Community Guidelines state that, and provide the correct link for any such discussions.

    535 is now “tens of thousands”? What is this, New Math?

    The 535 are the Vile Faceless Minions who have sworn to mindlessly obey me. There are about 2500 Dread Ilk, and around 30,000 Ilk, some of whom are channers like the guy who trolled you yesterday. I direct the VFM, and can at least influence the Dread Ilk. The Ilk and the channers, not so much.

    Oh, dear. Have you been lining your headgear with aluminum foil instead of tinfoil again?

    To the contrary, I may even have to retract my previous statement about Tor Books. We’ll see.

  12. You know when Vox is rattled as he comes over here with the bluster and attempts to intimidate.

  13. Oddly, I can’t see why ‘I have tens of thousands of fans who will harass anyone who gets books from you and isn’t appropriately deferential’ is a message that Amazon would automatically want to be associated with.

  14. NickPheas on March 24, 2017 at 4:43 am said:
    Oddly, I can’t see why ‘I have tens of thousands of fans who will harass anyone who gets books from you and isn’t appropriately deferential’ is a message that Amazon would automatically want to be associated with.

    Don’t worry, Amazon are fearful of his terrible power. And from a commercial standpoint, wouldn’t want to jeopardise all those sales provided by internationally renowned Castalia House and its hundreds of customers.

  15. @Rob But that’s not true! Beale is a +2 sigma super genius, so he could never be rattled, because he’s played this all out in his head a million times, like Magnus Carlsen crossed with Hari Seldon. His appearance in this thread at File 770 is all part of Beale’s master plan to dominate SF, the Hugo awards and the world.

  16. You know when Vox is rattled as he comes over here with the bluster and attempts to intimidate.

    I’m not rattled at all. I’m discussing this here rather than on my blog so that my readers don’t pile on. But I can certainly move the discussion there and open it up to the broader public if you think that would be helpful.

    First, you have a mentally ill individual, Crazy Bob, who by his own admission has “been on brain meds for over two decades”, falsely posing as an unbiased shopper in order to manipulate Community content concerning a book edited by an individual he dislikes and published by a publisher he dislikes. Second, his Customer Review is in obvious and direct violation of Amazon’s Community Guidelines. Third, Crazy Bob insists that he is not a Customer of Castalia House despite admitting to having posted a Customer Review of a Castalia House product sold through Amazon.

    Fourth, Crazy Bob was called by someone falsely claiming to be from the nonexistent Castalia House Customer Service department and insists that this is somehow Castalia’s fault, Amazon’s concern, and a police matter. I would think he was imagining it if I hadn’t also been contacted by the caller. Being sane and in good mental health, I did not react by panicking and calling the police.

    Fifth, Crazy Bob can’t figure out how the caller could possibly have gotten his top-secret telephone number despite the fact that it took me all of 3 seconds to find a number for a Robert L. Hood in Hixson, TN on Google this morning. I suppose it helps to not be mentally ill and have an IQ over 75. You can see it right here: http://www.whitepages.com/name/Robert-L-Hood/Hixson-TN/4am2yh2. Now, maybe Crazy Bob is referring to a different number, maybe there are multiple Robert L. Hoods in Hixson, or maybe he’s just crazy. I know which way I would bet. Any takers?

    Fifth, Crazy Bob claimed on Amazon that “the doxxing threat was when they threatened to publicly post my street address and other contact information” even though that information appears to already be publicly posted. That strikes me as a little redundant as threats go. (A little gift; I know how you Filers like your Fifths.)

    Seventh, Crazy Bob continues to insist that I “approved” this call retroactively, which obviously is not the case or 30 other fake Customer Reviewers would have also received similar customer service calls. Eighth, Crazy Bob has contacted both Amazon and the police about a fake customer service call made in response to his fake Customer Review expressing fake customer dissatisfaction.

    That’s multiple levels of crazy. Maybe Bob needs to up his meds.

    And one final note: Amazon Customer Service is presently reviewing the 31 one-star Customer Reviews posted by unverified purchasers at our request. Their response should help us all understand precisely what they deem to be a violation of Community Guidelines and what they do not.

  17. Beale:

    “I’m not rattled at all. *shrill screaming* *incoherent rants*”

    Glad we got that cleared up.

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

    Not cool.

  19. I’ve never really seen an Amazon seller post personal details and opinions on someone who left negative feedback on a product before. Closest I can think of is when a company got booted for threatening to sue a negative reviewer. Try digging upwards?

  20. <blink> So, as a defense to a charge of threatening doxxing… Mr. Day actually doxxes someone?

    <blink>

    It’s like marching into a police station and announcing that someone accused him of sanctioning theft and to prove his innocence and demonstrate how easy it is to steal, he has this TV set he lifted from the accuser….

  21. @msb, rob_matic: Yep, pretty much.

    @VD: Your latest message is truly priceless. Remember that you posted this out in public for all to see, of your own volition. Now it’s not just me claiming that some channer threatened to expose my contact information over the phone – the head of Castalia House himself has actually done so online for all to see. Thanks once again for taking something I said out of the realm of something you could plausibly deny.

    Should I send Amazon the link now, or wait to see if they contact me first?

    Oh, and as for the “brain meds” – it’s true that I take a pill twice a day for a neurological condition. It is not, however, a condition related to mental health. But I’m sure Amazon LOVES it when their sellers call their customers crazy and post links to their contact information, all while demanding that Amazon “do something” about negative reviews.

    Keep on diggin’ that hole, VD. I’m not the one looking crazy here.

  22. @Kurt Busiek: how did shopping in the Coop prepare you for Powell’s? I know it has expanded a bit since I lived in the neighborhood (1971-81), but IIRC it is still known for density (and for textbooks, which are more a specific target than a browse) rather than quantity of titles.

    And for everyone overwhelmed by Powell’s, which at least has space: you should have seen Foyle’s 50 years ago. Dropping a 12-year-old bookworm there with just a couple of pounds wasn’t \intended/ to be cruel….

    @Cassy B (re @P J Evans’s delay-then-apology script) +1 on suspicions, +many on not making any assenting noises. I’ve heard this particularly for cellphone service (recalling the slamming discussed by @techgrrl1972 et al) although the one time I didn’t disconnect the message it was selling a “vacation” (I didn’t stay on long enough to guess how much of the time would have been spent listening to pitches for timeshares etc.).

    @P J Evans (responding to DMcCunney): I know a reader who habitually reads a books last ~page, then buys if they care how the book got there; the look-inside previews I’ve seen don’t support that.

    @Meredith: is that the same Samuel French that rents theater scripts from a (formerly?) NYC base? I didn’t realize they had a retail store.

    @DMcCunney: if the system can’t recognize when it’s talking to a machine (as in the headset-excuse case), does it have so much capacity that having to run out the spiel costs it \nothing/? I wonder about ISP fees based on gross byte counts (even if one call is no more than pissing in the ocean) but don’t know whether bytes are counted on T1 lines (or whatever else these slime can buy).

  23. Now it’s not just me claiming that some channer threatened to expose my contact information over the phone – the head of Castalia House himself has actually done so online for all to see. Thanks once again for taking something I said out of the realm of something you could plausibly deny.

    Your contact information is already online. Did you forget that you previously said you couldn’t figure out how anyone could possibly have gotten your number? I haven’t exposed anything. You, however, have repeatedly committed libel.

    Should I send Amazon the link now, or wait to see if they contact me first?

    I think you should go right to Vladimir Putin. Or the aliens under the Denver airport. By the way, check out my blog. You’ll want to let everyone know right away that I also approve of presidential drone strikes on fake reviewers.

    I’m not the one looking crazy here.

    (nods, backs away slowly)

  24. Back in the 1990s on Usenet it seemed like the insult of choice was to ask if someone was off their meds. To my discredit I posted something like that a few times myself.

    Then you hear from somebody taking meds, or you have a loved one taking meds or you take some yourself. You grow up a little and recognize how childish and offensive those kinds of insults are, and how many people are hurt by that stigmatization.

    I see Beale’s still waiting on that epiphany.

  25. @ Meredith and Chip Hancock
    Argh! French’s has ANY play script you could want, plus lots of professional info for actors. Last spring I got my copy of Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop there. Will miss it very much. Sure hope the new Foyles stays in good health.

    Rcade
    Well said. I had not thought much about this, to my shame, until I listened to some discussions here.

  26. So, the guy calling someone “crazy Bob” is saying the guy who has posted factual statements about real events has committed libel? Is this backwards day?

    There’s a nice little correlation between the times VD turns up here, and how rattled and desperate he’s feeling. I guess those sales figures must be looking a bit thin. He’s not even been able to claim victory in some obscure sub-sub-sub-category yet.

  27. Peer Sylvester on March 22, 2017 at 11:30 pm said:
    It’s deja vu all over again, man!

    And here I was, thinking Mike had an excel sheet with all proposed and used titles, were he rates them 1-5 and ticks of the ones used.

    … and (awfully slow of me, I know) just after I switched the laptop off last night it occurred to me – the ones that Mike rates as a 5 get used twice.

  28. Mark writes: He’s not even been able to claim victory in some obscure sub-sub-sub-category yet.

    Perhaps the attempt at confusing purchasers actually confused Amazon, and Scalzi is even outselling the “parody” in Beale’s personal sub-sub-sub-category “Shit published by my vanity publisher”.

    (Vanity publisher is probably not the right term – those are real businesses which live off their authors vanity, not fake businesses set up to stroke the publishers vanity. A Potemkin publisher, perhaps?)

  29. It would be a true scandal if, after VD proved with such ironclad Aristotelian logic that Bob violated Amazon’s own terms of service, Amazon refused to discipline the offender. The only recourse, if that were to happen, would be for VD to stop depending on the SJW lackeys of Amazon (I mean, really, a company named after a matriarchal society, what do you expect) and start his own book distribution company.

    I’m sure such an enterprise would quickly become so well-known and profitable as to leave Amazon in the dust, much as VD’s own literary career has eclipsed John Scalzi’s, and Castalia House has eclipsed Tor.com, and Infogalactic has eclipsed Wikipedia, and WarMouse has eclipsed Logitech’s products.

  30. @rcade: “off his meds” as an insult

    I’m not hurt or insulted by someone noting that I take medication for a neurological issue. It’s a fact of life, no different than someone needing to take insulin for diabetes or birth control to regulate hormones. In my case, it’s a genetic issue (thanks, dad) that is easily managed with a relatively low dose of medication. In daily life, it’s a mild inconvenience, comparable to needing to wear glasses when I go to see a movie. (It also means I’m not allowed to get drunk, but I’ve never wanted to do that in the first place.) The major difference is that I don’t have to get my glasses refilled four times a year. 😉

    The sharp-eyed reader may have noticed that I referred to treating a neurological issue rather than a behavioral or mental one. There’s a reason for that. Despite Beale’s allegations, I’m not on any sort of mind-altering drugs. I see a neurologist twice a year, not a psychiatrist twice a week.

    I mean, I get why Beale wants to use anything he can to discredit and insult me. That’s who he’s proven himself to be. Doesn’t make him right, though.

  31. And one final note: Amazon Customer Service is presently reviewing the 31 one-star Customer Reviews posted by unverified purchasers at our request. Their response should help us all understand precisely what they deem to be a violation of Community Guidelines and what they do not.

    This bit is pretty funny. First of all, it’s unlikely Amazon would do this in the first place, but the notion that they’d tell Vox Day they were doing it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    When I was a senior manager at Amazon, a well-known SF writer contacted me through a mutual friend to ask me to help him do something about a negative review he thought was libelous. I looked at it, and, sure enough, it directly accused him of plagiarism. So I created a trouble ticket and assigned it to the relevant group. You can’t ignore trouble tickets, so they responded in about a week, but they wouldn’t budge; they resolved it as “not an issue.” I asked around a bit, and learned that they are very, very protective of negative reviews, and that Bezos himself backs them up. Also, there’s this weird dynamic where total number of reviews boosts sales, so often even negative reviews are helpful–which makes the business case for removing them pretty thin.

    Anyway, the idea that they’re looking at removing negative reviews because Vox Day doesn’t like them is just hilarious.

  32. Mark on March 24, 2017 at 8:12 am said:
    So, the guy calling someone “crazy Bob” is saying the guy who has posted factual statements about real events has committed libel? Is this backwards day?

    I think it must be the moon court definition of libel.

  33. I don’t generally say anything when I answer the phone, until I hear live person on the other end (I’ll blow into the mouthpiece to see if that gets a reaction). Usually it will hang up after several seconds of dead air. The “clunk” is when I hang up.

  34. 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.

    @airboy The way to have “won” this one (if you don’t mind my offering advice here) would have been to address Rev. Bob (and no one else) to say something like “I hope you understand that I’m really trying to help you–not blame you. I do this stuff for a living, and I really do think these are the best steps.” As soon as you start getting defensive, you’ve lost. (And I agree that this is hard advice to follow when people are sniping at you.)

    By the way, your advice about the State Attorney General’s office is spot on. I did that a year or two ago about a problem, they sent a letter, and the company called to apologize and even sent me a check. I think they’re an underutilized resource.

  35. I’m sure such an enterprise would quickly become so well-known and profitable as to leave Amazon in the dust, much as VD’s own literary career has eclipsed John Scalzi’s, and Castalia House has eclipsed Tor.com, and Infogalactic has eclipsed Wikipedia, and WarMouse has eclipsed Logitech’s products.

    LOL. That’s some sweet, sweet shade. All it lacked was a Psykosonik reference.

  36. @Chip Hitchcock & Msb

    I don’t know whether they’re the same as the NYC one, but it seems likely!

    Some elements of the business will remain, which may be reassuring.

    @Mark

    I liked it during that brief period he stuck to his promise not to comment here. Good times.

    @Peter J

    Funny. 🙂

  37. @Greg Hullender

    I would be more sympathetic to airboy if he hadn’t apparently concluded that a couple of people snapping at him (over something which would have been exceedingly easy to defuse with a brief apology for the however-accidental element of victim-blaming) equated to all Filers everywhere doing so. Shades of Jeffro Johnson.

  38. I don’t generally say anything when I answer the phone, until I hear live person on the other end (I’ll blow into the mouthpiece to see if that gets a reaction). Usually it will hang up after several seconds of dead air.

    I answer without speaking also. Junk callers use computers that wait to hear a human voice before passing the call to someone in their call center to continue. They track when a human has answered, so even if no one is available to continue the call they know they can get a human on a later attempt.

    When I get a call on my cell phone from an unrecognized number I answer, say nothing and put the call on speaker. When they don’t hang up, a human typically says enough to reveal that it’s a junk caller and I use iPhone’s block this caller feature on that number.

  39. Okay, on the airboy thing –

    I took no offense. Looked to me like he was offering advice that could be useful, so I filed it away for possible consideration. It didn’t seem to call for a response.

    That was an error on my part. I should’ve said something to that effect much earlier. I’m doing so now: lay off of him, guys.

  40. @Peter J: “the ones that Mike rates as a 5 get used twice.” – LOL!

    @rcade & @rob_matic: Answer-without-speaking seems odd to me, but I’m old-fashioned, I guess; I’m used to the callee saying at least one syllable. 😉 I’m guessing if you have caller ID, you don’t do it for recognized numbers/people?

    I hate the robo-calls, but it sounds like I get an order of magnitude fewer of them than some folks here! I’ll count my blessings. If I hear any weird background noise or click – especially that weird background noise that just doesn’t sound right – I may hang up or say, “Hello?” If I say anything and there’s a pause, I just hang up; I’m not going to wait on obvious call forwarding/switching/whatever. If I actually have a real human from the start and they start a spiel, once I’m sure it’s not actually from a business I want to hear from, I just say “Please put me on your do not call list” as fast as I can, then hang up quickly without waiting for an answer.

    ETA: I doubt the “please…” thing does anything, but (shrug) I figure it’s worth a shot. I don’t mind taking 3 seconds to do that, just in case.

    Amusingly, I got a call while typing this; it didn’t seem automated (and the guy was reading the script super-slowly – new at this game). A real estate company had someone from New Jersey call me to tell me about an open house near me (ETA: I don’t live anywhere near New Jersey; this was really near me). “Pleaseputmeonyourdonotcalllist” and a hang-up.

    That reminds me, I’m not sure I’ve ever had the caller ID show a state name and have it be a “real” call (one I want). Is showing the state name how these automated calling systems owrk?

  41. @Meredith

    I would be more sympathetic to airboy if he hadn’t apparently concluded that a couple of people snapping at him (over something which would have been exceedingly easy to defuse with a brief apology for the however-accidental element of victim-blaming) equated to all Filers everywhere doing so. Shades of Jeffro Johnson.

    It’s asking a lot of someone to apologize when he’s the one being attacked, don’t you think? I agree that that would be the most effective strategy (I’m sure it’s what Jesus would do) but it’s a BIG ask.

    Beyond that, silence connotes assent. When a few people attack you and no one rises to your defense, it’s fair to conclude that those people represent the group.

  42. I’m guessing if you have caller ID, you don’t do it for recognized numbers/people?

    Correct. I go through periods where I get an obnoxious amount of junk calls. The previous owner of my phone number ran up a lot of debts, and when they’re sold to new collectors for pennies I hear from those shady characters.

    It’s rare that I give the silent treatment to someone I need to talk to. When that happens I can usually figure this out and speak before they hang up.

    I began the no-speaking thing because I was loathe to let a computer know a human answers my phone.

  43. Greg writes: When a few people attack you and no one rises to your defense, it’s fair to conclude that those people represent the group.

    I don’t know about “fair”, but it’s a great way to get paranoid fast. I ignore a lot of what goes on here in comments, doesn’t mean I agree or disagree with it, it just reflects the fact that there is a lot going on. I also tend to assume that other people are adults and don’t need me jumping in to defend them, they can defend themselves.

  44. Re: phone spam

    As someone who has always had phone anxiety, I’m immensely happy that almost all my personal communications can be done electronically these days. And as a secondary feature, that enables me to pretty much ignore phone spam. I have a 3 step system:

    1. Does the phone display a name that exists in my phone-address book (and is that of someone I want to talk to)?
    1a. If I’m in a context where I’m able and willing to talk, then answer.
    1b. If 1a is false, hit “send to message”.
    2. If 1 is false, hit “send to message”.
    3. If a message is left, listen when convenient and respond if necessary.

    Statistics for the last 2 months:
    38 total calls
    1 name in address book (answered at time of call)
    7 left messages of which only 2 were non-blank & were automated reminders of appointments (i.e., no need to respond)

    I love living in the modern world. When I moved house half a dozen years ago, I took the opportunity to stop giving my landline number out to people. I eventually dropped the landline entirely, but for a brief period it had an outgoing message that said “You can leave a message if you like, but I’m not likely to listen to it. If I wanted to talk to you, I would have given you my cell number.”

  45. I’m pulling out of the airboy-related discussion on the basis that Rev. Bob’s asked people to lay off, and while I believe the points I’m making at this point are more about sensible approaches to conversation, I also think they could easily contribute to laying “on”. I don’t think I have anything in particular to add that would be worth ignoring that. 🙂

  46. rcade, I use iPhone’s block this caller feature on that number.

    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. How do I do this? Enquiring minds getting random sales calls from Phoenix, Miami, and Fargo want to know….

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