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Journal: Morgan Freeman on Mars

Journal by mcgrew

As I was going through Google News this morning I ran across an item about actor Morgan Freeman talking to a couple of astronauts on the ISS at a round table discussion at JPL before an audience of what looked like two or three hundred people, all of whom were JPL employees.

He was there with the producer of his show on the Science Channel Through the Wormhole and with its writer, a physicist.

Movies

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same 219

Posted by timothy
from the rising-overhead dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."

Comment: Re:There's something touching about that comment (Score 2) 102

by hey! (#47500515) Attached to: "Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

It's not the human *touch* that people crave in a complicated interaction with a system. It's human *versatility*.

Thus more personnel does no good, if those personnel are rigidly controlled, lack information to advise or authority to act. The fact that they're also expected to be jolly and upbeat as they follow their rigid and unyielding rules only turns the interaction with them into a travesty of a social interaction.

What would work better is a well-designed check-in system that handles routine situations nearly all the time, along with a few personnel who have the training and authority to solve any passenger problems that come up.

Comment: Irrelevant. (Score 1) 763

by jcr (#47497465) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

The minimum wage affects those who are unable to earn some arbitrarily-set cutoff price. Growth of any jobs that pay that much or more is entirely beside the point.

Statists like to pretend that they're helping the poor with law that says "here you go, you get to earn at least this much!", but what these statues really do is say is "UNLESS you can earn this much, no job for you!"

-jcr

User Journal

Journal: Nobots Chapter Thirty Three 2

Journal by mcgrew

Coffee
An alarm woke me up at quarter after six. What the hell? Fire in P117? I put on a robe, and as I trudged down there Tammy was running into the commons. I wondered what was going on.
I got to Passenger quarters 117 and it was a damned drill, the light wasn't flashing and I didn't smell any smoke. I really didn't expect to, because except for Tammy's quarters none of the rest of the passenger section was occupied and

Comment: Re: The issue is big publishing (Score 2) 190

by hey! (#47493819) Attached to: Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

I can only go with the experience of my friends, who've gone both routes successfully.

It's true that traditional publishers expect mid-list authors to shoulder most of the promotion efforts these days. I never said they didn't. Fiction authors are now expected to maintain a platform, which used to be a non-fiction thing. Certainly traditional publishers have become more predatory and less supportive than they were twenty years ago. I don't have an inside track on why that is, but I suspect there are several causes. One is that POD allows publishers to make an reliable though modest profit from their mid-list authors, which ironically makes them more risk averse. But publishers still provide production and editing services on a MS that'd cost you maybe ten thousand dollars if you were contracting those services out. They also get your book in bricks-and-mortar bookstores, which is a bridge too far for most indy authors, even the successful ones.

A lot of the bad feeling that publishers get from indy authors comes from two sources. First, a long history with rejection. Second the lack of respect indy authors get relative to traditionally published authors. We can see it in this discussion elsewhere, where one poster puts "authors" in quotes when referring to indy authors. And it's easy to see why because most indy authors just aren't good enough to get traditionally published. *Some* indy authors put out a product that's every bit as good as the mid-list authors from the big publishing houses, but most just dump their terrible manuscripts on Amazon with a clip-art cover and no copy editing, much less developmental editing.

The statistic that most indy authors make their investment back plus 40% didn't impress me, because (a) that counts the author's labor as free and (b) most indy authors don't invest much cash in their projects. The percentage of indy authors that clear, say, five thousand dollars in profit are very small.

It's not that indy publishing doesn't have its points, and my traditionally published friends are certainly thinking about dipping their toe in the water. But it's not as cheap as it looks if you want a comparable product, and you give up certain things. I was in Manhattan recently and went to the 5th Avenue branch of the NYPL. My traditionally published friends' books were either on the shelves our out circulating. The NYPL had *none* of my indy author friends' books, even though at least one of them has made the New York Times best seller list.

Comment: Re:The issue is big publishing (Score 1) 190

by hey! (#47492489) Attached to: Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

I don't think it's as simple as Amazon is good or Amazon is evil. Amazon is powerful, and that needs watching.

Now I have a number writer friends, one of whom is published both with traditional imprints like TOR and with Amazon's new in-house publishing imprints. She has good things to say about Amazon's imprints, but one thing you have to take into account is that nobody will stock your book *but* Amazon if you publish with them. That's giving up a lot, so they treat authors reasonably well. But that doesn't mean the corporation actually cares about authors. Amazon needs reliable mid-list authors to make their publishing ventures a success, and by cutting out the middleman can afford generous royalties. But if Amazon succeeds in putting a stake in the heart of traditional publishing, I wouldn't care to speculate on what will happen to authors.

Nor should what traditional publishers do for authors be underestimated. I have friends who are successful indy writers, but it's not like being a writer, it's more like running a small publishing house yourself. They hire story editors, copy editors and artists, and manage promotion and publicity. It's a lot of work; that plus actually writing pretty much precludes a day job. It's not for everyone.

It's a lot like being an engineer. Engineers are smart people who usually have a lot of insight into the companies they work for, but that doesn't mean that most engineers want to run businesses. Some do, but most would rather have other people take care of that stuff so they can concentrate on what they feel they're best at.

Many writers choose the indy market because it's the only way they'll ever get published. They just dump their manuscript on the market without editing, design or promotion and hope for the best. They rarely succeed. Others choose the indy route because they thrive on running and controlling their own small business, the way some engineers step naturally into the role of entrepreneur. They're well positioned for the future. But most writers need support to reach their full potential.

Comment: Re:Finally! (Score 2) 467

by mcgrew (#47489035) Attached to: World Health Organization Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Use

It might cause a few deaths but it also sustains the multi billion dollar prison industry and employs well over 1 million people in the US alone

None of those jobs help the economy. Why should people be employed in occupations that have no benefit to society whatever and are in fact detrimental to society?

The government profits from illegal drugs even more than drug cartels do.

Colorado's pot legalization and the multi-billion dollar alcohol industry shows that governments profit a lot more from legal, regulated drugs than outlawing them.

I've known drug addicts, and the WHO is also right about compulsory addiction treatment; compulsory treatment flat out doesn't work. The addict has to want to stop, and it's very hard even when they want to. Alcoholics and other drug addicts relapse more often than not after treatment.

However, should they ever invent the fictional drug in the novel I'm writing (see my journal, the first crude draft is being posted there) I sure hope it's not legal!

User Journal

Journal: July 20, 1969 4

Journal by mcgrew

In 1969 I was a seventeen year old nerd in high school, using my slide rule to cheat in math class. I was probably the only one in the school who even had a clue how a slide rule worked, let alone owned one.

Comment: Re:They need exactly 63 999 employees (Score 1) 271

by Just Some Guy (#47486731) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?
tysonedwards said "In no unit of measurement is 64K(anything) = 65635.", almost certainly commenting that 64K+99 isn't within 1 of being a power of two (especially since he goes on to point out that 65535 is. He was correct and probably agrees with your position.

Comment: Re:Good. Now what about ads? (Score 1) 137

We should be able to filter out adware applications too.

Sure, but under what justification? If you download an adware app, you're not out anything. You can delete it. You can duct tape over the add portion of your screen. Unless it's "adware with IAP", which would place it in the non-free category, it's factually free in every practical sense.

I find adware annoying and I steer clear of it, but I can't imagine a reason to label it as non-free when it costs me no money to download or use it.

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