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Journal: Well, crap... 8

Journal by mcgrew

Patty emailed me and solved the "why isn't anybody buying the Amazon ebook" question -- according to her, it's nearly impossible. She says they won't take a credit or debit card, you have to either have an Amazon gift card or that Amazon Prime crap.

So I don't know what to do. I'd just pull it and put it on the site for free like the other two books, but that would hardly be fair to the two people who jumped through Amazon's hoops.

Suggestions are very welcome.

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Journal: Stupid Tourist! 2

Journal by mcgrew

At an impasse with Voyage to Earth, I hacked out another short story today. Unfortunately, I wrote it in Open Office and slashdot refuses to preview properly; in preview it looks fine but when posted the smart quotes turn to garbage. So rather than pasting it here, I'll have to send you to somewhere less stupid.

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Journal: The Time Machine

Journal by mcgrew

I just added another title to my web site: H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. I hadn't realized that book was 8000 words short of being a novel.

It only took a day or so to fix up, but then it isn't a fat book like Huckleberry Finn, which has so many illustrations that I'm going to have to upgrade my space on the server (as if this hobby doesn't already cost too much). The Time Machine only has three pictures.

Speaking of Huck, like I mentioned, I hadn't read it in decades. I discovered on reading it that Sergy's kid did NOT, in fact, coin the word "Google". The word "Googling" is in chapter 29: "The duke he never let on he suspicioned what was up, but just went a goo-gooing around, happy and satisfied, like a jug that's googling out buttermilk; and as for the king, he just gazed and gazed down sorrowful on them new-comers like it give him the stomach-ache in his very heart to think there could be such frauds and rascals in the world."

Do you think that they'd have named it something else if they knew that "googling" had to do with lack of speed? I found it rather amusing.

You've probably noticed that the posted books I didn't wrire are referenced in the ones I did. I wish I could post Asimov's The End of Eternity.

I should get back to Mars Bars and Random Scribblings...

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Journal: A New Old Book

Journal by mcgrew

About six months or so ago I decided to take a break from writing and do some reading, so I pulled an Asimov collection from the shelf. After half a dozen or so stories, I thought I'd read something that wasn't science fiction. Huckleberry Finn was on my mind, and since my copy was somehow lost I decided to just read it on the web; I remembered it being a really good book, though I hadn't read it in decades.

All the online versions sucked;,, the .EDUs, it didn't matter. All had extraneous bullshit and looked thrown together carelessly.

So I thought I'd assemble one that didn't suck; one with borders, a book font, proper justification, all the illustrations by the original illustrator, and put there with thought rather than <p><img src="illustration.jpg"><p>.

I see why the rest looked hastily thrown together; it was a hell of a lot of work. I've been at it full time for a couple of weeks, and although I've posted it at my web site there are still a few bugs.

If you decide to read some Twain and see some bugs, please let me know.

The book isn't really about Huck. It was about Jim. It was an abolitionist book about the horrors of slavery, written before the Civil War.

Folks were sure different back then.

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Journal: Good Bye, Google. 6

Journal by mcgrew

For the last several years I've noticed Google's search results getting worse and worse as time went by. Ten years ago, typing the title of a work returned that work usually in the first spot. They now seem to completely ignore the "title" meta tags.

They've gradually reduced the number of things you could do to get to the document you're searching for. It used to be that if you searched for "no dog is a cat", all the search results would have that phrase in it, with documents having that as a title listed first. Now, searching for that phrase returns any page with any of those words. What damned good is that, if that exact phrase is what you're looking for? Apparently, Google now ignores quote marks.

I discovered this morning that that's not all it ignores now. Google has deteriorated to the point that the old Infoseek that Google took the search crown from was better.

It ignores not only quotes, but all punctuation and spaces. I searched for "Mars, Ho!" (including the quotes) and the first ten pages had results about people and things named "marsho". WHAT THE GOD DAMNED FUCK??? Why in the hell do the idiots think I put that comma, space, and exclamation point in for?

NASA has a "Mars, Ho!" page. Guess what? Google doesn't return it. At all. Google gives me millions of pages, none of which match my search criteria. I can almost see it not finding my insignifigant site, but a NASA page doesn't show up?

That's just pathetic.

What's even more pathetic is that its quality has deteriorated so much that Bing and Yahoo are now better at returning what you're actually searching for. Both NASA's "Mars, Ho!" page and mine are on the first page of both Bing and Yahoo's sites.

It was wrong of Firefox to just change peoples' default search, but I now see why they did it. They figured out before I did that Google jumped the shark quite a while ago and now is next to worthless.

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Journal: Fourteen: The Final Chapter 1

Journal by mcgrew

It's that time of year again. The time of year when everyone and their dog waxes nostalgic about all the shit nobody cares about from the year past, and stupidly predicts the next year in the grim knowledge that when the next New Year comes along nobody will remember that the dumbass predicted a bunch of foolish shit that turned out to be complete and utter balderdash. I might as well, too. Just like I did last year (yes, a lot of this was pasted from last year's final chapter).

Well, this one's starting out a little differently than previous ones. Is the whole damned internet down? It's Dec 17 right now and I was going to register the copyright for Mars, Ho! then work on his year's "Final Chapter". The copyright office is undergoing "emergency maintenance" and slashdot says "Slashdot is presently in offline mode. Only the front page and story pages linked from the front page are available in this mode. Please try again later" after Firefox warned me "It's a trap!"

As usual, first: the yearly index:

the Paxil Diaries

A Pleasant Vacation
A Pretty Good Friday
A Yank Back to the Past
Get off Wierd Al's Lawn!
The Coldest Night
Scientist says white is black
I'm dreaming of a secular Christmas

Mars, Ho!
Moroned Off Vesta
Time flies like an error
Watch your language, young man!
Some links go to Soylent, since they don't have slashdot's patented text mangler when you format something for a book and copy & paste to the journal.

Last years' stupid predictions:
100% accuracy!
Someone will die. Not necessarily anybody I know...
SETI will find no sign of intelligent life. Not even on Earth.
The Pirate Party won't make inroads in the US. I hope I'm wrong about that one.
US politicians will continue to be wholly owned by the corporations.
I'll still be a nerd.
You'll still be a nerd.
technophobic fashionista jocks will troll slashdot.
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many FPs will be poorly edited.
I'll retire and/or die. Nailed it! I retired at the end of February.

I'll just keep the same list this year, except that the "retire or die" one (shudder) and replace it with "I'll publish Random Scribblings". That prediction may be a bit iffy.

Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?

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Journal: Mars, Ho! is now available 2

Journal by mcgrew

It isn't supposed to be. I'll get to that later, but first, please download the Amazon e-book! It's only two bucks and I'd really like to see my name on a best seller list.

Speaking of names, the dufuses at Amazon insist on a first name. At least they left it lowercase.

As to its early release, I'm not sure what happened but I wanted to have perfect hard copies in my hand first, but I won't for another week. Not sure what happened, probably my own fault. If one of the covers is borked that's a $25 ISBN up in smoke. I can only hope.

As always, PDF and HTML is free. I'm only charging for the ebook because Amazon insists, and maybe it will get more exposure. I write these things to be read, after all, not for money. Good thing, too...

The free files and links to sales are here.

If you're thinking "hey, I already read that book, right here," well, no, you didn't. What's posted here is 2/3rds as long, and much of that was removed. If you can't afford two bucks, well, you can still read it for free.

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Journal: An Upgrade

Journal by mcgrew
I've been really busy the last few days. I sent for the (I hope) final version of the three physical formats of Mars, Ho!; when they get here I'll release the e-book to Amazon and the printed copies for bookstore sales. I'll need the URLs for the checkouts before I "officially" release it. It'll be a couple more weeks. A while back I noticed "preview in web browser"in Open Office, so had a look. The paragraph indents were replaced by blank lines between paragraphs, but it was fully justified! So I saved it to my hard drive and opened it in Notepad. It seems there's an attribute to the

element I wasn't aware of;

gives you full justification. So I added it to the over 100 files for the two released books. I'd used
to separate paragraphs, which had worked perfectly in the files when they were left-aligned. A tiny bit ragged justified, but acceptable. Then I thought "These pages need margins, dammit!" so did a little googling, and came up empty handed. So screw it, I went 1990s and used a one row three column table with everything except the navigation in the center column, with the left and right set to 5% of screen width each, and the center at 90%. It looked really good; except now the paragraph indents were really ragged. So I went retro again and made a one pixel clear PNG and globally replaced
with . Also, if you have the Gentium Book Basic font installed it will display in that typeface (the printed book's typeface) instead of Times. I'm happy with it. It's possible or maybe likely that there are some words that should be italics in the html versions of Nobots and The Paxil Diaries, since I just eyeballed it looking for italics and may have missed some. With Mars, Ho! I had Open Office generate its ugly HTML for each page so I could search for Voyage to Earth, too. It's not even novelette length yet, but is getting a bit long for a journal entry so I may start posting it bit by bit.

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Journal: Merry Christmas! 1

Journal by mcgrew

For the first time in nine years I got to see my youngest daughter on Christmas; this is the first Christmas in nine years she didn't have to work. Great Christmas present!

And the second to last pre-publication copies came Christmas eve eve. I finished going through it this morning, and the book itself is ready. What wasn't was the cover; I fixed it and ordered another copy, so Mars, Ho! should be online in a couple of weeks.

"Fourteen: The Final Chapter" will be posted New Years Eve. Its link to Mars, Ho! will take you to the "coming soon" page on my web site until I actually publish a few days later.

Merry Christmas, everyone. For you in Britain and Canada, happy Boxing Day (tomorrow). And to everyone, may you have a safe, well, pleasant, and happy 2015.

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Journal: A mild rant 7

Journal by mcgrew

I've been listening to KSHE since the day they changed format in 1967. They play some great rock and roll.

They're a hundred miles away; Im in the fringe reception area so I listen online. So a few days ago I'm editing random Scribblings and the music stops. I curse Firefox and Flash and ComCast and pull the browser up to refresh the page that plays the music, and I see "Still listening?"

Well, no, YOU SHUT OFF THE MUSIC! WTF, if I wasn't listening I wouldn't have it running!

I do see why they started that, though: $$$. They have to pay the RIAA and ASCAP fees, which vary according to how many people are listening, and they don't want to pay for someone who isn't.

Still, it's annoyance.

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Journal: Three Irons Burning: Progress Report 2

Journal by mcgrew

When I was in college, I often took workshops in the summer. Two weeks of eight hour days equaled a normal class for a quarter. It would allow me a couple months vacation.

One was a blacksmithing workshop, where I learned to fashion stuff out of steel, learned a little metallurgy, and learned where a lot of the "old sayings" came from: blacksmithing. One is "too many irons in the fire", which is where this journal's title comes from. I'm working on three books right now.

Mars,Ho! is in its final editing stages, and I hope I'll be able to publish it next week; fingers crossed.

Next up is Random Scribblings, a collection of stuff I've posted on the internet since 1997; what I consider the best of what I can remember and find. It's also in the editing stage, but there's a lot more work to be done. it's huge, well over 100,000 words.

Then there's Mars Bars, a collection of short science fiction stories. It's in the beginning stages, with seven stories written so far and Voyage to Earth about half a novelette, at a little over 3000 words so far. I still don't know how long that story will be, or what other stories I'll come up with when it's written.

I'll probably post Fourteen: The Final Chapter a week from Thursday. I'll have a rant about my favorite radio station tomorrow or Monday.

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Journal: Interface

Journal by mcgrew

I plan on trying the suggested browsers, but thought I'd revisit Opera first. It dawned on me that changing browsers is going to be a big PIA, since Firefox holds a bunch of passwords.

It's been at least a decade since I've tried Opera; it was brand new when I last tried it. So I installed the latest one. The result was...

Who designed this gawdoffal mess? Look, folks, I'm all for hiring the handicapped, but you shouldn't have the learning-disabled designing interfaces. Look, folks, it shouldn't take five damned clicks to get to a bookmark. And what idiot had the idea to have each bookmark take up a square inch or two, with stupid illustrations?

I haven't uninstalled it yet, maybe there's a way to make the interface less idiotic (Firefox does), but I'm not hopeful.

Saturday morning I started working and just wasn't in the mood; I needed a weekend off. I probably wrote a paragraph in "Voyage to Earth". So I did a little random googling and ran across the fact that Windows lets you easily catch and save an audio stream, but it's disabled by default.

I'd been using EAC to sample my LPs and tapes for years, but it will only run on the XP tower. Someone clued me to Audacity a few years ago; it's been installed but unused.

I fired it up to see if I could indeed catch streams, and it does indeed.

And unlike EAC or Opera, it has an excellent interface and its manual is actually useful! I love that program! There are a ton of advanced features I'll probably never use, but it's good that they're there.

Sunday night I copped ACDC's new album, a Deep Purple "best of", and the Grateful Dead's "Skullfuck" album from KSHE's "Seventh Day" show. I guess I need some blank CDs for the car...

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Journal: WTF, Firefox??? 7

Journal by mcgrew

As usual when I boot on Patch Tuesday, I open a bunch of tabs, the notebook slows to a crawl, and this time it was locked up so tight that Windows gave a message saying it couldn't display the message and to use the power button. I had to pull the battery to reboot the damned thing.

So I start Firefox back up and it says it's updating. It finally opens, with an extra tab, one telling me that it changed my default search to Yahoo.

WHAT THE GOD DAMNED HELL, FIREFOX??? This is bullshit! If I wanted that God damned Yahoo, an even worse search engine than Bing, I would have chosen it.

Yahoo, when your product is so shitty you have to trick people into using it... fucking morons!

There used to be a drop down by the search box; it's gone now. I tried tools->options; that's where it is now. Non nerds would give up.

Pissing off your users is NOT the way to get more of them. Anybody have any suggestions for a less annoying browser?

Also, I need to dig out that kubuntu CD and load it on a thumb drive; I'm damned sick and tired of Microsoft's patch Tuesday.

Excuse me while I reboot. Again.

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Journal: This is a first 5

Journal by mcgrew

Mod points both here and s/n at the same time. And here I'm working on three books!

There's Mars, Ho! which I'm hopeful I'll publish soon.

Then there's Random Scribblings, a collection of articles and stuff I've posted on the internet since 1997. Its subtitle will be "junk I've littered the internet with". Even though there's probably less than 10% of what I've written it's huge, well over 100,000 words. It will probably grow a little, because I just found six articles I thought had been lost forever.

This is kind of related; much stuff from my old Quake site is there. Someone once asked if I could re-post the shoutcasts, but there's too much RIAA music in them and they would surely be quickly taken down, so if you want them, email me and I'll send them as attachments.

Finally there's MarsBars, a collection of short science fiction stories. I worked on Voyage to Earth some yesterday. That book is less than 20% done.

I've been working harder than I worked when I still worked. So I'm glad I got all those mod points, I needed a break.

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Journal: Crappy Holidays 5

Journal by mcgrew

Thanksgiving morning I was ready to pick up my daughter and visit our family a hundred miles south in St. Louis.

My keys weren't in my pocket. An hour later I gave up looking and called all concerned with the sad news; no Thanksgiving for me this year; I was stuck in my house.

I found them Saturday.

I'd ordered a copy of Mars,Ho!, hopefully the final pre-print, on Monday before Thanksgiving. I expected it to ship Saturday, but it still hasn't shipped. So I doubt I'll have it published by Christmas, let alone soon enough for it to be gifts.

Sorry, guys.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire