The Premature Death of Wearable Electronics

Welcome to Fitbit Number Three. Now, you may be asking yourself what happened to Fitbit number two. Well, that’s understandable. If you blinked, you probably missed it.

I got a Fitbit Blaze over the Thanksgiving weekend. For those of you who are either too ladylike to add the swears or not American… That would be three fucking weeks ago. Even compared to Fitbit number one–which made it five months–that’s disappointing.

The Blaze screen is made of Gorilla Glass 3. It’s basically supposed to survive the Apocalypse. And if you look at the support forums, you’ll find all kinds of promises of that nature.

And today, I found a scratch. Well, quite a few scratches, including one that ran from top to bottom. What about the Gorilla Glass, you ask? Well, I’m not impressed. Not only do I not see four horsemen… I don’t remember hitting my wrist on anything. I don’t believe in unsinkable ships, but I do at least expect an “Oh, shit! An iceberg!”  moment. 

So, back it went. It’s well within the return period, and if I had kept my receipt, I’d have gotten my money back. As it was, the option was a store credit or an exchange, and honestly…  Aside from a Fitbit, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted in a sporting goods store. (It may come to me, but a Fitbit is an awful lot of soap on a rope.) So, I took the exchange, and we’ll try again when my screen protector arrives.

#3 is also a Blaze. In fact, it’s identical to #2. It’s a small, which made me a little nervous, but the smallest hole on the large band doesn’t equal the largest on the small. There’s about an inch of overlap. 

I’ll let you know more when I get a chance to take the new one for a test drive.

Until then, let me know about your fitness trackers and wearables. Any suggestions? Dire warnings? 

Giveaways and Readers

I’m sick as a dog right now, and took the day off work. I’m having trouble with the seemingly simple task of walking and not vomiting at the same time. Since both of those things are highly valued in the workplace, I’m recuperating at home.

If I don’t eat, drink, or move… Well, don’t tell. I think there are those who would equate moving my thumbs to type with being hale and hearty.

So, I’m thinking about book giveaways and whether they work and how they work.

The changes in Goodreads’ pricing for giveaways, and the subsequent weeping and gnashing of teeth might have something to do with that.

I’ve won a few giveaways in my time, and I find myself thinking about the authors who I wound up reading steadily as a result. There aren’t that many. And that makes me wonder if I’m looking at the wrong end of the strategy.

I’m wondering if the target for that kind of marketing is the guy who didn’t win, but who still feels an attachment to the book as a result of his narrow miss. The building of lists and followings, and the individual response of one entrant who happens to win is immaterial. 

And of course, I’m curious if that changes the strategy.

So, who’s found a new favorite author through a giveaway? And if you have given away books, how would you do it differently the next time?

Reverse Dumpster Diving

You know those big name authors? The ones who have to cross cut shred everything because the people who go through their garbage would post spoilers in the internet, if they didn’t?

Well, I’m not one of them.

In fact, my well-meaning critics dropped off an extra bag of garbage this morning.

Bag of garbage

The actual garbage in question.

It appears they don’t think I’m throwing enough away.

Pricing and Podcasting Microphones

blueyeti pro mic w/pricing

I was in a Best Buy the other day. That’s something I don’t do all that often because it tends to make me a little nostalgia-y sad. (They’ve really pared down their components in recent years, and the sad truth is that I usually know more than the staff does. Especially if I’ve been researching a purchase, and have now abandoned my jammies.The staff, of course, has been trained to be as outgoing as possible, so there’s no real chance of reading the box before it’s being read to you.) In general, the prices don’t really lure me in, either.

In this particular case, the goal was a highly educational documentary of no particular description, due to the fact that I remember their video section being… well, better.

I cannot go into one of these places without looking at things, though.

So, after a brief stop by internet connected locks, which was interrupted by a salesman (really, they just appear out of no where) I headed over to my current fascination. Podcasting equipment.

They are not selling any of the things that are in my basement, right now, and the next step on my list isn’t there, either.  But I did find the pricing interesting, and worth mentioning. This is a Blue Yeti Pro microphone. It’s priced locally at $179 ish, but is generally priced at about $245. And it’s priced at $245 on the Best Buy website, as well. So, the unadvertised local price is roughly $66 cheaper. And it has been for a couple of months at least.

Don’t take this as a recommendation for the microphone itself. For a podcast, this is actually a lot of overkill, and the microphone I chose is about half of the good price. I would like to own this one… mainly because it has a lot of fiddly knobs for me to play with. But if I’m just reading stories on the internet, it’s too much. But it’s an interesting exercise in pricing.

This is also–I checked–the only microphone in the store that has both a USB and an XLR connector. And that means I’ve gotta remind everybody that it’s a big red flag anytime a store only has one selection of anything. In this case, it means they’ve stocked the really expensive version where you get more than most people will ever need for more than most people should pay. Sometimes, it means you’re getting the bargain basement version. Or the “popular” version. It very rarely means you’re getting the right fit.

Revise or Rewrite?

Lately, the question with basically everything I’m working on for my revision seems to be do I revise what I already have, or do I rewrite it from scratch. I think I’m doing pretty well with rewriting. It seems like the answers are just coming to me, right now. Or, maybe it’s the step back I’ve taken to focus on Nano for a while. I’m not sure what the revision will look like after I finish the current rewrite. I have a happy feeling it may actually wind up being shorter than I thought it would be.

I had an enormous plate of nachos today. They were all covered in carne assada and by the way, the chips were fried fresh in the store. And just in case you were wondering… it was a half order. It was still bigger than my head, and it made me happy. Pretty sure there was enough food there for me and two of my closest friends.

So, anyway… the revision is progressing.

The nano project? Well, this is the second day I haven’t added all that many words to it. (Zero would be not many, right?)

I’m not sure whether there’s something wrong between me and the nanoproject, or something wrong with the project as a whole, or if I’m just more interested in the revision at this point.

But the core set of characters are people who have been sloshing through my brain for a while, now. And maybe I should still be able to turn them into something beyond the… uhm… fifty pages or so that I have.

And no, I’m still not sure what they’re supposed to run into out in the middle of space like that.

I probably should throw in a bunch of kids so they can whine about are we there yet? (No, not for another three generations, but you’ll really love the place, when you’re eighty.) And then, the parents can throw them out an airlock when they get really annoying. (Oh, look! conflict!)

Right now, I have one child. Well, uhm… slightly less than that. I have… **gets out calculator** about 17% of a child.

Oh, shut up.

You already knew I write science fiction.

NaNoWriMo Day 12: Dreams and So Forth

Ever have one of those dreams where a beloved children’s book author takes pity on you and takes you out for Chinese with the rest of his family? I’m not sure exactly where we went afterward, but I’m pretty sure you get the general idea. One standard belonging and camaraderie dream coming up. Nothing says you belong quite like having to suffer through family with someone. (Or, uhm… well, it was actually a very nice imaginary family.)

So, look at me. Apparently, I do get REM sleep from time to time.

And, apparently, I have mad desire to belong issues going on. So, will everybody still love me, if I decide to write children’s books about space bunnies?

I got up early today, and worked on my revision. More revision at lunch, and additional revision, after I got home.

And yes, that makes this the first day I’ve missed writing anything for NaNoWriMo, unless I settle down and come up with some kind of plot twist in the next hour or so.

I really must run. I’d like to put in at least five or six words before I conk out for the night.

Nanowrimo Day 11: Something Goes Here

One of the benefits of writing by hand is that it slows me down and makes me think about the words I’m putting on the page. And one of the downsides of writing by hand is that it slows me down.

I don’t know what it is about 1,667 handwritten words that seems so much longer than 1,667 typewritten words, but there it is. I am not getting all of the handwritten cannibal-space cadet words that my nano challenge requires. There is also the added typing, which is a few days behind.

I also find myself running into a very limited number of conflicts that you can have on a spaceship, and even fewer if you limit yourself to the five people who are on board that spaceship. (Plus or minus a few characters… uhm… yeah. Don’t look behind the curtain.

And then, there’s the Scrivener thing. Which goes with they typing thing. And I still don’t particularly like Scrivener. I’m still looking for the spark that everybody else seems to get with it. It’s not as intuitive as YWriter, and while it may be customizable at some point, I’m having trouble imagining what the customizations would be for me. Then again, I’m not really the kind of person who has a big old bundle of research notes on the computer.

And, in the trend of electronics dying around me… my fitbit lost it’s one button, today. No. I don’t know how. And there’s a break that’s a little hard to even describe, but I think it’s probably going to be fatal.

And coming soon…

Karen replaces the power supply for her pet computer. I’m not sure, but I think that may officially mark the very last of the original pieces I built the thing with in the first place. It’s had a good run. I don’t know if anybody’s interested in pictures of the process, but if you have a preference, let me know.

Let The Typing Begin

I got up early this morning, and started to type. I mean type, not write new words out of my head in a typer-ly way. I have a few NaNoWriMo pages left to type into the fabulous Scrivener program (okay, so closer to fifty) And we’re finally going to get to the root of how many of my handwritten pages equal how many words.

I have been putting this off since day one.

The answer turns out to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 220 words per page, which means that to be on the safe side, I need to be writing about eight pages a day.

And how many pages per day have I been writing? Well, I think I’m averaging in the four to five range. That doesn’t include organization for the nano story, of course, and I haven’t been counting revision work, either.

I would probably have a lot more words, if I were typing from the beginning.

I still believe that the words that I do have are much cleaner and more usable than the words that I’d be doing with start and stop typing.

The place where I’m doubting myself, though, is whether my morale might not be higher with a few more words on the page. A green bar or two from time to time wouldn’t hurt me, and the idea that I can finish my 50k by the end of the month might not be bad, either.

Yes, I know, objectively that it’s not really 50k, if I wind up throwing large chunks of it away, and I know that I’ve been chasing that cleaner manuscript ever since I started manuscript number two.

Of course, if I keep this up, the notebooks I’m using are always going to be available, and the word count should remain pretty much the same. (Unless I can weasel my way into a few more words per page.) And I definitely have that color-coded, quick glance to see how a day went thing going on.

It may just be time to suck it up, and say that since this is what works for me, Nano may have to become a primarily social activity.

What do you think?

NaNoWriMo Day 9: The Artemisium Has Arrived

After a long wait–and a shipping mistake–and another long wait, the Artemisium Absinthium that I’ve been waiting for finally arrived today. And it barely made it into the house, because, well… an ounce of dried leaves, another ounce or two of ear-wrap, and a manila envelope don’t do all that well in a stiff autumn wind. I had to fish the package out of the bushes.

But, it’s here.

Now, let’s be honest. This is an experiment, not a commitment, and as such, I ordered the smallest possible package from Amazon. As it turns out, an ounce of artemisium absinthium goes a long, long ways. A serving is half a tea spoon to a tea spoon, and this… well, it’s a lot of volume. Probably about two decks of playing cards worth. (Some bending would be necessary.)

And my first response is that this stuff smells really, really good. It smells like something you’d put on a turkey. In the neighborhood of sage for the smell.

So, double checking what the always reliable sources on the internet say, we have half a teaspoon of artemisium steeped in about a cup of boiling water.

For five to fifteen minutes.

Yes, I had to read that part twice.

Okay. So, I aimed at five minutes. I’m not saying I’m cautious with drugs–dewormers or otherwise–but let’s go with the lowest possible dosage of the thing for starters. Five minutes, half a teaspoon of artemisium, and fingers crossed.

On the low end of five minutes, I tasted it.

And it does not taste the way it smells. Well, maybe it does, but my first impression was that it was like drinking very, very watery ear-wax.

A couple of sips later, when I had not acclimated to the stuff, I added some splenda. Well, it’s the only sweetener in the house, and I’m pretty sure you’d lapse into a diabetic coma, if you tried sweetening this stuff with real sugar.

I’m not–in general–all that squeamish about bitter. I mean, I actually like aspirin (poster child for accidental poisonings here) and I’ve been known to chew acetaminophen or caffeine when I’m just too lazy to get a cup of water.

Just so you’ll know what I mean, when I say “This is bitter.”

As in slightly more bitter than the stuff you use to keep the cat from chewing on things. (And guess what I’m doing with the rest of it).

The splenda helped, but there’s still an aftertaste that seems to get caught between your tonsils.

The after-after taste (read burps) is actually more or less what I would have expected from the original sniffing of the artemisium.

I did not make it through the entire cup, and I’m fairly certain there’s absolutely no measurable affect (although I do maintain that I do not have worms.)

I am also in a fairly upbeat and positive mood.

I doubt we can attribute that to a few sips of wormwood tea, but the new experience was well worth it. I may, at some point, try it again, using some of the fabulous pointers that I completely ignored, this time. Then again… I’m having trouble envisioning a little licorice tea as being that sweet.

Do I feel more creative?

Maybe just from having confirmed that I am, in fact, the kind of person who tries new things.

Fighting Off… well, something.

I was pretty well out for the day. I got in some work on my revision, and maybe a couple of hundred nanowords, but overall, more sleep than I’ve had in a week, and less writing than I would have hoped for.

It is possible that working at home is not for me.

It is also possible that cutbacks to library funding mean that I have nowhere to go until 10 in the morning, by which prime writing hours are over.

I’m still eyeing that drop-in membership at the co-working space, but to be honest, it’s a lot of money just so I can have someplace not home to write in and a bunch of non-writers to write around. It’s also… **ahem** a slightly creepy building to be in alone early in the morning.

I’m debating whether I actually need more sleep, or if I’m falling asleep out of boredom (very possible, since the book is starting to sound like case studies of insects) or if it’s just that winter hibernation thing kicking in. (Pops another round of vitamins.) Perhaps if I were actually sitting at my own desk in my own house, instead of curled up on the sofa…

My new scene in the revision is going incredibly well. The trick was to remove every single character I possibly could, and especially the ones who were doing the most talking in the first version. I should write that down somewhere.

And there’s always the perusal of literary agents for the “list” later on. I’m still debating the size of the query batches I should be sending out.