Monday, December 24, 2007

Family Christmas Gathering

As we sit around the fireplace and each work on our computers (I'm off in my office with two laptops open), we're waiting for Thomas (and his laptop) to arrive. But it's not as isolated as you might think because there are a number of Facebook games running among us.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lunch Sign

Small town joys include the local diners. In Hutto, one of the favorite lunch spots is The Texan. It used to be down the road near Frame Switch, but their business picked up when they moved into the center of town. I enjoy the chicken fried steak, but almost every time I eat there I keep looking at the big Highway 79 sign they have on the wall. Part of my brain just can't leave it alone. It's wrong.

I understand that it's just a wall decoration. I understand that it's evocative of the long history of road side diners of decades ago. I understand that they probably just bought a Route 66 sign and repainted it to match the fact that Hutto is on highway 79.

But 79 is a state highway, and those signs are on a rectangular background. It's the US highways that have the shield.

Like I say, it keeps nagging at me. But there's no help for it. I enjoy the grub.

UPDATE: Mary Ann said 79 is a US highway. I checked and she's right. But...why does the sign on the wall say Texas?

Monday, December 17, 2007


Today, I dropped by the not-yet-opened Hutto Public Library to meet the librarian, Yasmeen Jehangir, and to drop off a bag of books. Hutto has been trying to get a library since the '30's with limited success. She's still waiting for the shelves to arrive. The building is part of the old fire station, and she's working hard cataloging all the books that have been collecting over the years awaiting a building. Hutto is the fastest growing city in Texas, and it's been a shame we lacked a library. We still don't have a grocery store.

In addition to finding a home for some of the neglected books at my house, I'm seeding the local libraries with copies of my books. I write so people will read them, and you never know where they will show up. Just this evening, one of Google's Alert crawlers ran across a copy of my 1983 computer book, on the shelves of the King Saud University Library in Saudia Arabia. You've just gotta wonder how it got there.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Diamond Rio 500 on iTunes

While cleaning up my office this evening, I ran across the USB cable that connected the old Diamond Rio 500 music players to the computer.  I have two of them gathering dust in my desk drawer -- what with an iPhone and assorted iPods to take care of my real music player needs.
However, I had seen several comments in blogs about how Apple had tied the iTunes exclusively to the iPod in order to prevent people from buying any other kind of music player.  That contrasted with my distinct memory of using iTunes to load my Rio back in ancient times.  Of course, maybe things had changed.
But now, I had all the pieces.  I grabbed a fresh AA battery and fired up one of them.  I plugged in the cable and connected the Rio to my Mac.  With no hesitation, the Rio mounted beside my iPhone in the sidebar and specialized buttons showed up at the bottom, with commands for making new folders on the Rio and upgrading its firmware.
I didn't even know the Rio had firmware upgrades, and since the company had long since gone out of business or changed hands, I was a little doubtful.  But Google is your friend.  "Rio 500 firmware" led me to a site that had the firmware for download.  I did the obvious and upgraded both my players quickly and easily.  
Then came the test, could I add and delete songs?  My first try failed, but I realized I was trying to put an AAC encoded song onto a MP3 player and iTunes declined to permit that.  Scrolling down my music list, I found a few zillion songs appropriately encoded and as easy as drag and drop, I changed the playlist on the Rio.  Of course, at USB 1 speeds, it was amazingly slow, but I was dealing with ancient technology, so that wasn't unexpected.
But, it was as I remembered.  iTunes treats the Rio as a first class citizen, within the limits of its tiny memory cards, and its capabilities.  I wonder how many other 'alien' players iTunes supports?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Getting Behind

I'm behind and getting more so each day, it seems.  Since I began this "micro publisher" project I'm learning more things that have to be done at a greater rate than I'm working off the checklist.

For example, this newspaper article about me came out on September 17.  Of course I was in Zambia at the time so I can claim innocence that I didn't immediately post notice about it in my blog and on my website to leverage the media attention and sell more books.  That's what I'm supposed to do, isn't it?  But it's now December, almost three months later that the website editing task bubbled to the top of the list.  It's embarrassing.  

Another example is the publication date of Roswell or Bust, my second novel.  I'd planned for October.  It slipped to November, and then I decided to shift my printing and distribution from Lulu to Lightningsource to get better pricing, and that added a whole new layer of accounts to open, and ISBN's to buy and contracts to fax.  And then I ran smack up against the reality that to have any chance of the book to get a review in Publisher's Weekly or Booklist (pre-publication reviewers) I had to send them galleys 3 or 4 months in advance of publication.

My simple minded idea of publishing one book a quarter and spending a week or so on each of them to herd them through the processing has now been replaced with the reality that I'll have to work on four books simultaneously to that I'll have the lead time to get everything done by publication date.  

I'm learning a lot about the business of publishing -- more than I ever wanted to know.  Let's just hope I can keep up with it all.