Learning Puppet 4 is complete, now for some fiction!

by on Mar.26, 2016, under News, Publications

Learning Puppet 4

As I’m sure you saw through my other sites, Learning Puppet 4 has gone to final production.

The online version is already available, and the dead tree version will start shipping next week.

After three technical non-fiction books in 4 years, I’m going to focus on fiction for a while. I had always intended to do both, but that didn’t work out as intended. I’ve learned a lot about working more effectively, and more supportive methods of procrastination. It’s time to indulge my creative brain again.

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eBook Reader selection guide

by on Dec.16, 2015, under News

Would you like to upgrade your ereader, or give an ebook reader to a friend? This post you’ll find suggestions and advice on ebook format, digital rights management, and improved night reading.

Book Format

If you aren’t sure about the recipient’s favorite way to read ebooks, give them an ereader that will read ePub books. This standard format is supported on every platform by dozens of e-reading applications. A book published in the ePub standard format will be available no matter what happens in the marketplace, or whether they shift to a different reading platform in the future. Furthermore, there are numerous easy ways to convert an ePub book to be read on Kindle readers.

A book based on the proprietary Kindle format can be converted to other formats, but the process isn’t easy and the results are less than ideal. However, if you know absolutely that the user has and prefers an Amazon Kindle, then you can gift them either format. They have already accepted the technology risk associated with the Kindle format.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

If a book is protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) it may be difficult to read on other platforms. If possible, purchase a book without DRM protection.

If the publisher of the book insists on DRM protection, your choice of platform could become important. Apple and Amazon books with DRM cannot be read on any third-party device or application.

In contrast, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and many other stores sell book with the standardized Adobe ADEPT DRM technology that third-party ereaders can properly decode and display on any platform.

LED versus e-ink

For the choice of reading device, the only significant criteria I have found is the choice of LED screens versus e-ink screens. Some people have a difficult time reading LED screens for a long period. Other people (myself included) can comfortably read LED screens for any length of time. If you want to gift someone with a new or upgraded reading device, try to learn how they feel about reading on LED screens.

The following readers provide front-lit displays that don’t shine light directly into your eyes:

  • $99 on sale: The Nook Glowlight Plus is a dedicated e-reading device. This device can display any book in ePub format, ensuring upgrade protection and allowing purchase from many book vendors.
  • $99 on sale: Kindle Paperwhite can only display Kindle-format books.
  • $119: Kobo Glow HD is a dedicated reading device which uses Kobo’s reading software.
  • €119: inkBook Obsidian is a full featured Android e-ink device which can utilize any Android reading app, including Kindle and Nook apps.

There is a wide variety of devices with LED screens, so you can pick any one which meets your needs. I recommend that you acquire and use blue light filters at night to prevent the well-documented effects of reduced serotonin generation.

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How to give eBooks as Gifts (updated for 2015)

by on Dec.15, 2015, under News

As Christmas is close, Winter Solstice is closer, and Hanukkah is already upon us, some of you may be looking for ways to give books to people that don’t involve shopping malls or overnight shipping. Give an eBook! Every year it has gotten easier and easier to send eBooks as gifts. Here are my short and easy instructions, with links to detailed explanations for each vendor.
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Massively parallel personal connections

by on Jun.02, 2014, under Observations

A friend of mine, the award-winning author Jay Lake died yesterday. I spent most of yesterday mourning, and watching as people all over the world came together to share their experiences with Jay. It was truly amazing to see how many lives he had touched, how many people felt loss at his passing. However, it also showed us how Jay achieved something I believe truly new, only possible with recent technology advancement. Jay built personal connections on a global scale, in a sense massively parallel Interactions in Real Time. (continue reading…)

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And the problem is… writing thrills me.

by on Mar.19, 2014, under Process

I have a problem common to all working authors–finding time to write. Almost every established author will tell you to write every day. No matter how you feel, make time to write every day. I try to follow this advice, but I am struggling with it.

However the symptoms of my affliction are very different from most other authors I talk to. The problem isn’t that I can’t find the time, my problem is that I can’t stop. Writing thrills me too much to disengage… (continue reading…)

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Sharing context: are we The Borg or Babylon 5?

by on Mar.17, 2014, under Observations

Recently we have seen renewed fervor in what is clearly a multi-generational discussion: “Have you read the classics?” I’ve seen some very odd conclusions about what this request is.

A request that someone read a book, or “the classics” for whatever value of “classics” the speaker intends, is a request for the other person to gain the same vocabulary/basis/perspective as the speaker so that a common base for communication can occur.

I think all of us have made this request of another constantly. I can’t tell you how many times a friend and I have agreed to put aside a debate until each of us has read some book or set of books that the other recommends. Phrased as a request in the pursuit of knowledge, this is a great way to participate in an enlightening conversation.

The problem occurs when one person rejects another person, their beliefs, or their tastes based on lack of sharing a common base. (continue reading…)

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Be Something Better: Change the conversation

by on Oct.10, 2013, under Observations

Today we saw a conversation we see far too often, about some nasty men who harass women on the Internet. They aren’t speaking their opinion, they are attacking women. It’s reprehensible behavior, and it needs to stop. And it needs to stop now. I am shamed that we allow this behavior in our society, and I wish I could do more to stop it.
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A different kind of loss in Night Shade’s collapse.

by on May.24, 2013, under Observations

This post is not going to deal with how or why Night Shade collapsed, nor is it going to deal with the choices that authors have to make dealing with the purchasers. I really don’t know anything about either of these, and what little has reached me I read in the same places you have. I am writing this post about something different–what we in the community lose in this transaction.
(continue reading…)

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The essential key of a good critique

by on May.08, 2013, under Observations, Process

After more than four years participating in critique groups, both in person and online, I have come to the firm conviction that there is only one essential key to a good critique. This key is so essential that I’ve come to believe that a critique missing this key is worthless to the author, and that any critique containing this key, no matter how green or ignorant the reviewer, can be valued for its weight in gold by the author. (continue reading…)

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My first technical book has been published.

by on Mar.30, 2013, under News, Publications

In addition to my fiction I also work on technical publications. My first technical book was published by Packt Publishing this last week.

Details about the book can be found on my technical website at Instant Puppet 3 Starter.

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