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Comment Re:Missing (Score 1) 184

A picture plus the title in a large font doesn't seem so difficult.

By the same token, if I decide to make a guestbook for my website in PHP, all I need to do is let the server write the post data to a text file, I'm ready to go. I don't really know much about form validation or security, but that's okay, because I'm not trying to be a programmer, just set up a little web form for learning's sake.

The big red warning lights you see in your head right now are what graphic designers see when someone says they can make their own cover.

You CAN make a book cover using random artwork with a large font, but you'd be surprised how many people can screw that up, too. And if you screw it up, it'll make people think the contents of your book are amateurish, too, and nobody will read it. And if that's where you're headed, you'd just as well set up a regular blog and bypass publishing altogether.

Comment Re:Missing (Score 1) 184

The fact that you don't know the difference between editing and copy-editing speaks volumes about what you don't know about publishing. Editing is a valuable contribution to the publishing process and can make the difference between a mid-shelf and blockbuster book.

The trick of publishing right now is that editing (and to a lesser extent, copy editing) is much less common than it used to be. Editors pick up titles, give them minimal once-overs and turn them over to production because the money isn't in fixing, it's in producing, and they want to keep their jobs. There may be a few editors who have the power to really involve themselves, but they're the exception and not the rule anymore.

Marketing is anything but free and can even fail disastrously for a well-written, well-edited book.

Very true, but again, the reality is that except for a small percentage of books published today, the publisher does very little in terms of marketing. Before he was an e-publishing powerhouse, Joe Konrath used to boast that the only way he made it where he was was by traveling around the country doing his own marketing. He's been self-made the whole time, because publishers largely don't care to do that kind of legwork anymore.

I know several author friends who have been duped into spending all of their advance (or more) to hire THEIR OWN marketing experts to get the word out, because publishers will usually say "get a blog and good luck." It's absurd and short-sighted, but it's the way the game works now, except in very rare circumstances.

If your expertise is writing - which it obviously is or you wouldn't be trying to publish a book, right? Right? - what makes you think you're also an expert marketer/artist/graphic design/layout artist?

This is where we agree 100%. Free templates and buddies who are artists are poison to your work. If you don't know EXACTLY what you're doing, don't do it. A less-than-stellar cover will sink your book before it's opened, and less-than-stellar book block design will ruin your chances almost as fast. To date, there is no magic button to design a book without a lot of expertise.

One final note: if you self-publish, good luck ever getting a reputable publishing company to look twice at you.

This is true, and it's a danger you have to deal with. That said, the question is whether you WANT to work with a publisher. Put quite simply: sign a deal for anything less than a blockbuster title, and you will probably come out of the experience in debt, with so few copies sold you'll never get another book contract again. At least with self-e-publishing, you'll know how much of a raw deal you're getting in advance.

Comment Re:I remember years ago... (Score 1) 80

Well, admittedly the gap between a synthetic genome and widespread bioterror is pretty immense, but then the subject here is also open source biology, which I think assumes a lot of progress will need to be made in developing the science and tools as well. And once you start trying to develop those tools, it's pretty safe to say you'll discover what you SHOULDN'T do before you stumble upon any magic cures.

Never mind the Bond villain trying to take over the world, and never mind wiping out even a small fraction of the human population; all you need to do is make something that kills a few dozen people and has the APPEARANCE of being contagious, and you'll have a worldwide panic worse than H1N1. Make it easy for virus coders to share their work around the globe, and you've got the makings of something really terrible. It's not as sexy as a best-selling thriller, but it's just as scary.

Comment I remember years ago... (Score 1) 80

... a similar story on Slashdot talking about open sourcing the battle against disease, with the concept that "with enough eyes, all bugs become shallow", and ultimately how there was the concern that it would create a new type of malware that could do a lot more damage than the rest of the world could offset. I mean, even when we're trying to do good, we can make things that are utter poison... imagine if some borderline nutbar in a university lab got dumped by his girlfriend and decided to take revenge on women in general by making an airborne pathogen that would leave men intact. Sure, you could make an antidote with enough people and effort, but how many people wold die in the meantime? We see the battle between dedicated coders already with DRM and DRM-cracking... if that were to happen in the bio-tech space, it would be an utter disaster.

The Economist is right, to a point, but they seem to have more faith in humanity than humanity deserves.

(disclosure: that Slashdot story years ago led me to research and write a novel about this type of scenario, so this is near and dear to my heart)

Television

Submission + - The cartoon I created is coming to the USA! (1889.ca) 1

MrAndrews writes: "It's taken a long time, but the cartoon I created is finally coming to American TV! I've been working on this project for half of my time at Slashdot, so it's heavily influenced by geek culture. For example: the Zurasho tribe (originally called SlashBots) features in an early episode, where we meet their leader Commander Octo, and see them get into a fight about who put down the first post in a construction zone. Oh, and the central route through the city is called the RMS. And one episode is all about the dangers of DRM.

Because ratings are key to my continued survival, I'm running a little challenge: if the ratings for the first episode are good enough, I'll release my next book under a CC0 license (essentially public domain), and donate my scripting fee for the first episode of a hopeful season 2 to the EFF.

If you have kids and want to show them some good, geek-friendly eye candy, made by someone you may very well have flamed in years past... this is it. Please watch!"

Education

Submission + - Important Lessons for the Next Gen of Geeks?

MrAndrews writes: "My kids have had a fairly geeky upbringing so far, learning the evils of DRM at a young age, configuring new drives of anime for XBMC, and Creative Commons licensing their crayon drawings. But I feel like there's more education I could be doing, so I'm planning to create a series of short digi-fables that will prime them for life. I've already done DRM, patents, censorship and bullying, but there are probably lots of other topics out there that need covering, like net neutrality. Or SQL injection. Or... stuff. I've heard rumours that Slashdot is a fairly geeky place, so I put it to you: what are the most important lessons you can teach a geek-in-training?"
Cellphones

Submission + - Desktop as a cellphone extension

spaceman375 writes: Like many slashdotters, I've given up on landlines and have only a cell account. The problem: when I am home I don't want to carry my phone on my person, AND I don't want to have to run (possibly up or down stairs) to answer a call. Landlines solved this with extensions. I could go buy an xlink or other bluetooth to POTS solution, but that takes money for equipment. My desktop has bluetooth, as do my laptop and cell. All I want is a program that can use my cell's bluetooth to make and receive calls from my linux PC. I can do this with asterisk or related programs, but that is like buying UPS when I just need a taxi ride. Yet all I can find are programs that either use "presence" to shift other-sourced calls to my cell, or ways to use a bluetooth headset when receiving a call on a pc. Has anyone found a way to use their desktop to make and receive calls through their cell via bluetooth?
Sci-Fi

Submission + - Geeky Animated Series Premiering in Canada (canada.com)

MrAndrews writes: ""RollBots" is an animated series in the same vein as classic Transformers, but created from a tech geek angle. There are 301 Redirects, the city is divided into areas like the Boot Sector and Quartz Sector, and the main thoroughfare is called the RMS. It premieres February 7 at 7:30AM on YTV in Canada, and on the CW4Kids in the US later this month. You can see more on the official site, including the trailer I made for it. Full disclosure: I'm a long-time Slashdot reader and have worked like crazy to make sure this series is both fun and informative for the next generation of nerds. There should be enough subtle jokes to keep you entertained while the kids watch robots do kung fu on roller coaster tracks."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Dvorak Unveils New OS (pttbt.ca)

Richmond Sayers writes: Tech columnist John C. Dvorak unveiled a new computer operating system today, as an option for users who feel shunned by Windows, Mac and Linux alternatives. Dubbed "DvorOS", the software is built on a mixture of Assembly, AJAX and Hypercard, and can be run on any digital device from top-of-the-line Dells to rice cookers. "When I looked at all the crap OSes out there, it made me want to vomit, frankly," said Dvorak in a press conference from his garage, "So I hired two kids in India to build something better. And it's the best $1.45 I ever spent, let me tell you."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Here Comes the Canadian DMCA (michaelgeist.ca)

MrAndrews writes: "Michael Geist reports on a predictable-but-sad development from the Canadian Speech from the Throne: as expected, the Conservative government is bowing to pressure from the American music and movie industries, vowing to "improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright reform". It looks as though a Canadian version of the DMCA is on the way, and it's uncertain if any of the major parties will want to put up a fight to stop it. Where's the Canadian Pirate Party when you need them?"
Sci-Fi

Submission + - Doctor Who goes on hiatus for a year (bbc.co.uk)

BigBadBus writes: "Looks like Dr.Who fans will have to go without their hero in 2009 after the BBC revealed the Time Lord will take a gap year. Might be a good idea considering the unpopular choice of Catherine Tate as the new companion. However, to please die-hard Whovians, there will be three specials in 2009."
Education

Submission + - LinuxWorld: Open Source, Closed Doors 2

dualscan337 writes: As a long time linux user and enthusiast I thought it was finally time to take the plunge and attend the LinuxWorld Conference next week out in San Francisco. I registered online to get the free Exhibit Hall Pass but this morning I received this email:

"Thank you for your interest LinuxWorld Conference & Expo San
Francisco, August 6-9, 2007.

Unfortunately, as a business-to-business event targeted
exclusively toward enterprise IT professionals, official show
policy prohibits students, and anyone under the age of 18, from
attending this event. Therefore, we must inform you that your
registration to attend LinuxWorld Conference & Expo is not valid
and you will not be permitted on the showfloor."

I'm a graduate student in the physical sciences and I realize that this is a business oriented event.. but what is to gain by maintaining this sort of closed door policy toward students? Let's not forget that a lot of code is contributed by the people they're not allowing inside the door. I have always felt that the power of open source was in the fact that anyone could participate/contribute. I feel that a conference whose slogan is "Open Source Rules — Find out why" and doesn't let me in because I'm a student misrepresents what Linux and Open Source is all about. What does slashdot think? Should I have planned on going to DefCon instead?

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