02/10/2016 06:18pm Blog Entry
Noticed a lack of embedded fonts on the new Looking Glass ebook? Yeah, me too. I fixed it. Give Amazon a few days to approve the update and push it out to their servers.
Yay! Updated website!
The big news: Looking Glass and Irreconcilable Differences are BACK IN PRINT on Kindle Unlimited. This means that if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get my books for FREE with your subscription. If you don't, they're $2.99 each through the regular kindle store.
Both books are at edition (version) 2.1, which means I've cleaned up various typos that made me cringe over the years, and sanded out one or two spots where I meant to edit something when I wrote them and forgot. Both books also come with a brand new forward and new (better) typesetting including embedded fonts.
The cover art is the biggest noticeable change. Looking Glass's cover is built from iStockPhoto images, composited by yours truly. Irreconcilable Differences' cover is also composited by me, but from photos sourced from NASA (free!) and Second Life (Also free, but I had to buy the props.)
What does this mean?
I've finally decided to take control of my fiction. I'm no longer interested in having some publisher take 3/4 of the purchase price to throw it out into the world, leave it to languish there, and then not pay me when I'm owed royalties. They all seem to do it, they all want sickening control over the work, and most importantly, the trad publishing industry is in a state of contraction. This means companies are being bought and going bankrupt. The very last thing I want is one of my books to become an asset of a company being bought or going bankrupt, where it may sit for years while the litigation is sorted out, and then be simply misplaced forever. Likewise, I've been a creditor of a (functionally) bankrupt publisher. I don't do debt collection happily.
Moving forward, yes, there will be new books coming that have never seen the light of day before. Watch this space.
Also, I am in the process of getting Looking Glass and Irreconcilable Differences set up on CreateSpace so you can buy hard copies of my books again. On this, I should say that if you see the older orange and green covered books, do please buy them. Some bookseller took a chance on me in the Flying Pen Press days, and I'd like to reward them. Most of them are selling at a discount below what my list price will be anyway. As I get into the new work, it too will be coming out in both KU and CreateSpace. I still haven't stopped getting a little giddy when my work appears in dead tree editions, so I'll be doing that for the foreseeable future.
Also, my website update now sports a "Technical Writing" section, and so far its only occupant is "Learning Linux System Administration,' a series of videos I did with Infinite Skills (part of O'Reilly) last summer and talked about at some length. I'll keep you posted right here when the next technical book comes out.
In my opinion, the usual plumbing analogy for how conductors work does more harm than good. Electrons do not flow. They are stripped from one atom and stuffed onto its nearest neighbor, quite slowly. Since atoms are very, very close together in conductors, this means the net /charge/ flows through the wire, somewhere close to the speed of light.
Even charges are not like water in a pipe. Charges are relative. Water isn't, really. You're either wet or you ain't.
It seems to me that electronics are much, much less confusing when you learn a little of the physics involved, so you can see what the electrons /are/ doing, and what you're really measuring. Doubly so when you can think about the physics to understand more about electronics and not be led up the garden path by a bad analogy.
There are places where electrons do flow like water: inside vacuum tubes. Ironically, this is where the water analogy breaks down the worst, because the electron flow is /backwards/ to the direction the tube conducts current. It took me a long time to get my head around them.
01/18/2016 10:22pm Blog Entry
In terms of story, after nearly forty years, the Star Wars franchise has passed from the hands of its savant creator, who spent the rest of his career not understanding how the original worked, to the hands of chimpanzees. Disappointing. There are good characters in there, but we hardly get to know them because the movie is paced so badly. Slow scenes where there should be fast ones, fast scenes where some character development and world building might have been good, and don't get me started on the fan service. Please JJ, let someone else direct the next one. More importantly, hire a writer who knows how to tell a coherent story.
Having now read Persig and Wilson, and in preparation for my journey into Hesse, I've begun to think that if you want to understand the culture of today, you have to first understand the counter culture of 50 years ago. (Egad). I very much suspect that the culture of today is powered by the same dynamic tension that spawned culture and counter-culture then.
I also had no real idea that I was reading counter-culture authors, until I read that Hesse was made popular in the U.S. after his death by Colin Wilson and Timothy Leary. I probably should have guessed.
01/14/2016 04:41pm Blog Entry
In order to write a program, you need variables, and objects, and memory management.
In machine language, you haven't got all that.
What you've got is bananas and underwear!
(or memory, opcodes, and data, take your pick.)
I can't find the commercial anymore, but I /think/ it was for a video game based on the Jungle Book. The narrator was a sound-alike for R. Lee Ermey.
11/27/2015 01:41pm Blog Entry
Some years ago (2011, to be precise) friend Jeff and I went to Taos Toolbox, then at the Taos ski area in New Mexico, taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress. It was, frankly awesome. I wrote about it at length here. Most of my classmates (unlike me) have had their work published much more readily than they enjoyed previously. It was also a lot of fun, albeit a ton of work in a short timeframe. I bring this up now because Taos Toolbox 2016's applications period begins December 1, 2015. The 2016 installment is coming. Same instructors, same format, slightly different location: Angelfire, NM, 25 miles away. So if you are a writer with some chops who is still reaching for the next level, if you want your writing to go deeper and further than it could before, if you want truly enlightening instruction from two veteran science fiction authors, and a workshop experience you can't get outside of a university (and perhaps not even there) go to the Taos Toolbox Website read up, and apply. You won't regret it. -JRS
Amusements in language:
If you only have one leg, can you save money buying a pant?
Seriously, do you need a /pair/ of pants if you have only the one leg?
Maybe so. After all, it's a pair of underwear, a pair of boxers, a pair of briefs.
I think they count butt-cheeks. Consider. It's a /pair/ of panties, but /a/ thong.
Now we're getting someplace.
Still working on the technical book. Nothing much to report.
09/15/2015 05:52pm Blog Entry
The deeper I dig into physics (yay, another amateur physicist) the more I think that physics should be taught starting out with quantum theory and move upward to Newton, as it is in nature, rather than from Newton to quantum theory as it was discovered. Or perhaps start with Newtonian mechanics and then take the deep dive to explain Newton. Right now I'm finding it easier to understand Bohr's orbitals model by knowing the electron spin and so forth that lie beneath than to simply memorize Bohr. It may be that I don't understand enough to understand how little I understand. Or I'm just weird. -JRS