Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Conclusion Of Mike Cane 2008

Pull the strings! Pull the strings!

And for a year, I have.

I had no frikkin idea what nearly a solid year of blogging would be like.

Dear God. I am wiped out!

Some days made me absolutely fucking insane. Even without Simvastatin rotting my mind!

And now I have reached the end.

Two bits of advice before I go.

The first for dealing with the financial chaos of 2009:

The second for every writer and would-be writer out there:

And that's all there is.

Thanks to everyone who stalked this blog, irregularly popped in, and also linked to it.

My online presence will now flatline. I'll likely -- maybe -- pop up on Twitter for reaction to MacWorld Expo and CES introductions.

But a new blog? I have no plans for one.

I need rest!

Leverage: The Bank Shot Job

See this post at the WordPress blog.

Writer Jeff Schult Has A New Blog

Into Temptation: Sexual Networks, Culture and Society
"Into Temptation" is a not-necessarily safe-for-work (or anywhere else) forum about evolving social-sexual networks and how they have changed and are changing lives. It will also loosely chronicle the research, writing and publication, I hope in 2010, of a book by the same name.

Jeff was ahead of the curve with medical tourism (see below links).

I wonder if he's read Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis?

That might be news for him!

Previously here:

Jeff Schult: New Medical Tourism Site
Spitzer: The Last Drop
Meet Jeff Schult (And His Teeth!)

But It's Still A Fine Madness

Some Days Are Better Than Others
I'm sure that all of you who write have experienced it.

Things seem to be going well. The words are coming out smoothly. You're in the flow. And then...

You hit that place, that certain point, where you can't seem to go any further. The words and ideas have suddenly stopped. It's like beating the bottom of that damn ketchup bottle, and nothing, but nothing, will come out!

Oh yeah.

But it's still a fine madness ...

... even when it makes us feel like that!

Follow Arjun Basu On Twitter

And you'll get a wonderful story in a tweet. He calls these "Twisters."

This is a collection of some from the past few days:

Click below to make readable!

Follow Arjun Basu on Twitter.

Reading Is An Investment In Thinking

The Long Decline of Reading
It takes hours to finish a book, even for the fastest readers. This wasn’t a problem when books had less competition, but with the three massive timesinks of cable TV, videogames, and the internet, people look at that massive time investment, and they get apprehensive. Sure, they know that books can be just as enjoyable as movies or games, if not more. They may even feel guilty about not reading. But what if this book is no good? What if I end up hating it? What if I can’t understand it? Imagine all the time wasted! And so they stop before they even start.

A long, detailed, and excellent article.

Strangely, public libraries aren't mentioned at all.

Interster Episode Two: Saboteur

See this post at the WordPress blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blog Notes: 1

We race towards Zero Hour here!

There are less than twenty-four hours left to this blog!

"But," people ask, "What will you do after this?"

My fingers will still be busy:

With a series of children's books!

The Happy Stabby Family!

There's Junior Stabby:

Papa Stabby:

And Uncle Fun Stabby:

Oh, I just know you're all waiting for this! I can tell.

I can feel your reaction through my screen:

All of this is my kindly way of saying:


The Horror Of Paper Books

This is a post I've kept putting off. Things happen.

Then Wayne MacPhail tweeted this photo he took inside a bookstore:

It gave me a feeling of absolute horror -- and I knew the time had come to actually do this post.

There I was several months ago in a bookstore. One of the few still remaining in Manhattan that offers overstock at incredibly-reduced prices.

And I found a book I would have liked to have.

But I couldn't bring myself to buy it.

I kept having flashbacks to all the times I've had to get boxes, put the books in boxes, carry the damned boxes, move the damn boxes, unpack the damn boxes, and again arrange the damn hundreds and hundreds of pounds of printed paper books.

That book would have been another pound to lug around. Another frikkin object hanging like an albatross around my neck, limiting my mobility, weighing me down, reminding me that it will remain when I'm gone.

Let me say again: I really wanted the book.

But I physically could not buy it.

I've developed a bizarre allergy to printed books -- of the kind that are bought and owned and have to be moved around and that are always looked at and that are also a reminder of one's mortality.

Library books I don't have that problem with.

I can temporarily lug them home, even have a pile, read them, and then poof! back to the library they go.

But I want to own books.

I feel a guilt at not giving writers their rightful payment for reading.

Plus, with things being the way they are -- and have been -- I can no longer count on any public library having a copy of anything on its shelves. I once had to go to the Northern part of Manhattan just to read a short story by Barry N. Malzberg because only the City University had a back issue of the pulp magazine it was printed in!

This is another reason why I am an eBook militant.

I've never been a paper fetishist. My first collection of books were mass-market paperbacks. I never liked the size and weight of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. But I eventually amassed a collection of those too. I couldn't help it: Publishing had changed and there was no longer a guarantee of anything in hardcover or trade paper moving down to cheap paperback!

But the book as an object I came to see for what it is: A cage for the words within it.

It's the words -- it's always been the words -- that interested me. Never the packagaing, never the jail the words were locked-up in.

I can't be the only one out there who feels a sense of material liberation with eBooks.

Recently, a writer I've written about in this blog left a Comment offering to ship me a whole big bunch of books I'd blogged about. I never published that Comment because I couldn't explain why I couldn't accept more printed books. Even free ones. Even free ones from a writer whose work I admire!

So, this post has been something I've needed to do, in reply to that writer.

And to also explain why I have come to absolutely hate printed books.

Yes: But they're better weapons as eBooks!

ECTACO jetBook: Built-In WiFi Coming?

I'm asking ECTACO directly about this.

I got a bit of a shock with YahooMail moments ago. Not one of their usual useless banner ads. This one was aimed right at me:

Composite image. Click = big.

Of course I had to click on that M218!

Click = big

I knew as of last night that this was being sold in China. I never thought it'd be sold here in America.

And yet here it is listed on ECTACO's American store!

This is the paragraph to note, the built-in WiFi and its unique feature:

Click = big

The text of that:
With built in high-speed Wi-Fi, Chinese eBook reader M218B can easily connect to wireless network. Then you can immediately search and download numerous eBook, Pdf files and music. Another exciting feature of Chinese eBook reader M218B is that it supports end-to-end transmission. You can copy and exchange files, music, picture with another user, who can be your friend or just another "eBook-pal".

Emphasis added by me.

I can hear the nascent heart attacks of the dying dinosaurs of print out there!

Alas, the beauty photo of the M218 highlights the calculator-like nature of its screen, and not its ability to be mistaken for eInk under direct lighting:

But I have to wonder: Will ECTACO be releasing an English-language jetBook version of this?

Would WiFi then justify its $299 price tag? Well, not just WiFi -- but its upcoming ePub and MobiPocket capability too!

An ePub/MobiPocket WiFi eBook reader would suddenly help shake things up.

Both Amazon and Sony would have a formidable new competitor, I think.

Previously here:

ECTACO jetBook And ePub
Eejit Geeks. Things Should Just Work!
Micro Fondle 2: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader
ECTACO jetBook Ups ePub Stakes
ECTACO jetBook At Blowout Price!
More About That ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader
Micro Fondle: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

eBooks Search Milestone

Five of the ten terms that have led people to this blog (at WordPress) today are eBook-related:

This has special significance because this is the holiday gift-giving aftermath.

I've already seen stats in search for this blog this week that show an incredible number of people got either an iPhone or iPod Touch as gifts. The number towers over those for the Sony Reader -- but the Sony Reader has not given up the fight yet and has made a consistent good showing.

Dying dinosaurs of print: You better heed this milestone and amp up eBooks to Setting 11 in 2009.

Philadelphia Is Destroying Its Public Libraries

Some targeted library branches may be saved
Mayor Nutter said yesterday that five of the 11 library branches once scheduled to close permanently on Thursday are instead on track to be taken over by private foundations, wealthy individuals, companies, and community development corporations.

It was not immediately clear which branches have sponsors and the mayor did not identify the benefactors.

But Nutter expressed confidence that in time private operators could convert each of the branches now on his budget chopping block into community "knowledge centers" that would offer similar or perhaps even superior services to those now available. Though the services would vary from branch to branch, Nutter said the centers would likely retain book collections, computers, and perhaps even trained librarians.

Emphasis added by me.

This guy is certainly true to form to his surname: Nutter.

Hey, how'd you like to have to rely on, say, the Exxon-Mobil Knowledge Center for information about the oil companies?

I could go on in that vein and get really inflammatory, but fuck it, this blog dies tomorrow and I'm burned out as it is doing this.

This is the systematic destruction of the world as we have known it by the same bastards who brought us to this brink.

Are there any men left in America to stop this shit?

Free eBook By Ken Wohlrob

"Happy Bus" now available as a free eBook for iPhone, Sony Reader and more.
I'm proud to announce that I've made "Taking the Happy Bus on Home," a short story from my collection The Love Book, available as a free eBook for the iPhone, Sony Reader, Kindle and a just about every other device on the planet.

At FeedBooks for ePub, Mobipocket/Kindle, PDF, Sony Reader, iLiad, Custom PDF (the last option requires registration; all others do not):
One of the short stories from Ken Wohlrob's new collection, The Love Book. An epidemic of suicide hits a retirement community in Ohio and one couple begins to question the value of their final days together. These are very modern fables, with a great heart, a very biting sense of humor, and fully-fleshed out characters that you can sink your teeth into.

Buy a copy of the book or learn more about the author at

iPhone/iPod Touch users can grab it using Stanza. See details here.

Zig Ziglar


He's led some life.
When I was born, the doctor handed me to my mother and said, "Mrs. Ziglar, you have a perfectly fine, healthy baby boy." Nine days later he picked me up and sadly shook his head, indicating that I was dead. Yes, I died when I was nine days old. However, my family has told me that my grandmother walked to me, picked me up, held me in her hands, and started talking to me. Of course, we all know that she was not really talking to me . . and in a matter of seconds breath came back into my body; at age seventy-five it's obvious I lived.

My friends, it's been like that ever since.

-- Zig: The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar by Zig Ziglar; pg. 1

And here's a lesson that was swept aside in the Rush to Greed from the 1980s on ...
Coach Jobie Harris was my history teacher, and in many ways he changed and enriched my life. He taught me more than American history. He once said, "If you have an ability that goes beyond providing for your own needs, you have a responsibility to use that ability to reach down and help those up who do not have that capacity. As a matter of fact, if you don't reach down and help lift up those less fortunate, the day will come when due to sheer weight of numbers, they will reach up and pull you down."

-- Zig: The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar by Zig Ziglar; pg. 71

Emphasis added by me.

I Get A Request To Provide … Leverage!

See this post at the WordPress blog.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog Notes: 2

Look at time flying!

(Yes, it's earlier than last night's post. So I messed up! Shut up!)

There are now just two days left to this blog!

Soon my frenetic fingers will cease.


Wait until Wednesday before midnight!

ECTACO jetBook And ePub

My curiosity won't let me rest, of course.

I found out the jetBook is also in China, called the Dr. Yi. (I don't, however, know if this means the jetBook is of Chinese creation. But I wouldn't be surprised.)

Of particular interest to me is this:
CPU: ARM9 200MHz

Because look at this for the Sony Reader 505:
CPU: Freescale i.MXL, ARM920T core, 150-200 MHz

That says to me the jetBook should have the horsepower needed to deal with ePub files. I had been wondering about that.

Reference: GutenMark

GutenMark Home Page
Attractively formatting Project Gutenberg texts
What is GutenMark?

GutenMark is a command-line tool for automatically creating high-quality HTML or LaTeX markup from Project Gutenberg etexts. As of April 2008, there is also a graphical front-end called GUItenMark that greatly simplifies usage for casual users. Both Windows and Linux 'x86 are supported. Mac OS X is also supported, though in some respects it lags the others. Limited iPhone support is also possible.

In combination with other freely-available conversion tools GutenMark aims to convert Project Gutenberg etexts into publication-quality Postscript or PDF, for print-on-demand applications. The goal is for this conversion to be completely automatic, without manual markup or editing, but for the forseeable future some manual intervention will almost always be needed—at least, if your standards are at least as high as mine.

I took the Project Gutenberg plain text file of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and ran it through this.

Amazingly, this:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman.

was transformed to this:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.

As it should be!

I was impressed with the available options and did some light testing. It could be a very useful tool for Project Gutenberg etexts that have only a plain text version available.

On the other hand, I also downloaded the Project Gutenberg HTML of the same Holmes and it was superior.

But this tool remains a very painless way of changing those text files into a format that can then go on to further processing to create an eBook.

Eejit Geeks. Things Should Just Work!

Ectaco Jetbook downloads
I do not know what a line feed, text editor or DRM is, nor do I know how to convert!

I've just wasted a good part of two days playing around with various "tools" to create an FB2 (FictionBook) file format eBook.

I'm no novice, but the task defeated me.

The tools were shit.

1) One converter from HTML to FB2 ignored photos and styled text weirdly.

2) An entire program devoted to creating FB2 eBooks was buggy as hell and the files I thought were perfect turned out all FAIL!

3) A desktop FB2 file reader couldn't display italic text (but it could display JPEGs -- go figure!).

All I wanted to do was see one -- just one! -- FB2 eBook, even if I had to create it myself!

And here, in the above thread, eBook geeks are trying to convince a member of the general reading public to develop some g33k ski77z in order to do some eBook reading.

That's just half-assed stupid.

That's like everyone having to be a frikkin financial expert (and I choose that example to rub your FAIL 401K in your face!).

Now just imagine the general public encountering that Zero-G Toilet of Adobe ePub DRM!

That's just another formula for FAIL!

TNT's Leverage: The Team

The introductory character titles I couldn't show in my original post because of the funny revisionism they did with Parker. That would have been a spoiler.

All this for three reasons:

1) You should be watching the series: TNT Tuesdays at 10PM EST

2) In case I'm not able to post this week's episode on Wednesday

3) To get you to go to producer/creator's John Rogers' blog to read the latest post about the series.

Previously here:

Leverage: The Miracle Job
Leverage: The Two Horse Job
Leverage For TNT Has Wrapped!
New Promos For TNT’s Leverage!
Leverage: TNT December 2008
TV Networks Are Using A Leaking Service?
Leverage: The (Leaked) TNT Pilot
Leverage: Coming Soon To TNT
The Lever That Is The Internet

The Monthly Digital Lifeline Bill

Numbers to keep in mind
$260 a month. That’s how much the average US household is spending each month on digital services that did not exist a generation ago. They include: mobile phone, broadband access, cable or satellite television, personal video recording. This number comes from a survey by the Center for Digital Future, a department of the University of Southern California. Even more interesting is the amount of money spent by the poorest households: their monthly bill of digital services isn’t as low as one would imagine: $180. This suggests two thoughts: one, these services are no longer a luxury but have become as basic as a car; two, given this amount of money, hoping to squeeze a few dozens of dollars more per month for content services is unrealistic. Except for highly specialized premium services (almost never paid by the end-user), editorial on the Internet is very likely to remain free. European spending is lower, but catching up. — FF

Emphasis in the original.

Yeah, I can see that.

I know my book spending will go stratospheric when I go all-e.


That will end the days of my picking up used paperbacks for cheap. Even if eBooks level out to an impulse-buy price, there'd still be no matching a fifty-cent paperback!

Gerry Anderson: Still Screwed By ITV

Gerry Anderson - ''ITV Has Not Supported Me'' wmv
Gerry Anderson interviewed on 'bbc breakfast'

They just did a retrospective of Thunderbirds -- showing All About Thunderbirds again -- and kicked off a repeat of the entire series itself.


Not on ITV, which owns the series.

How fucked-up is that?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #482: Keiser

Max Keiser: Predicting the collapse of Iceland
Aljazeera re-aired Max's 2007 prediction of a collapse of the Icelandic economy.

While the program aired in August 2007, it was filmed in April 2007.

Watch for the scene in the Blue Lagoon in which Max predicts a global Depression to be caused when all these debts driven by low interest rates burst.

Emphasis added by me.

It wasn't just debt -- it was outright fraud. Isn't that correct, Bernie Madoff, you bastard?

Things will get dramatically worse between now and Obama's Inauguration.

You'll have to find your Doom fixes elsewhere, however. I won't be blogging after Wednesday.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blog Notes: 3

Time is running out here.

It's Sunday. This blog dies before midnight Wednesday.

Do the math.

Apex Book Company Needs Some Sales!

Brother, can you spare $15.95?
The economy has taken a huge bite out of Apex Publications. Starting with Bear Stearns dying, you can see an immediate drop in our revenue (September/October/November/December). December has been the worst with a drop of 75% in revenue compared to the August numbers.

The recession hit at the worst time possible. I literally have spent every penny in the coffers doing things like: reimbursing old lifetime subscribers (and yes, there are a couple of you still waiting on money), paying back the Apex Digest printer $12,000 (done, huzzah!), reprinting and reshipping stolen copies of I REMEMBER THE FUTURE (goodbye $600), replacing almost 90 USPS damaged ORGY OF SOULS hardcovers to Horror-Mall (goodbye $2000). I'm not asking for pity. This stuff happens to good people and bad. But stuff happening with the downturn in the economy has the Apex bank account crying for mercy.

What this means is that Apex Publications needs an influx of revenue. Quick.

What this means is that if you've ever thought of buying an Apex book, now would be a damn good time to do so.

The most effective, easiest and most fun way to pump some blood into Apex is to buy a book directly from our store. You get damn fine literature (and free media shipping if your order is $25 or more (applies to US orders only)).

If you're strapped of cash, then blog about our books or authors and try to coerce people into giving us a try.

I figure we need about $2500 in revenue over the next two weeks.

We're taking pre-orders on The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey, Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup, and The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley.

Catacombs and Photographs by Brandy Schwan is now available and all pre-orders have been shipped.

All back issues of Apex Digest are half-priced.

Emphasis added by me.

Apex is a small publisher. The kind of publisher we'll all count on in the eBook future, so give them some sales love.

Apex Book Company store
Apex Book company eBooks at Fictionwise (which look to be mostly DRM free as well as being in lots of formats -- including Sony Reader!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Speakers UP! Creaky Boards

There are now only four days left to this blog.

I'm in the mood for something triumphant yet melancholic.

This Creaky Boards song fits: The Songs I Didn't Write.

Amp up your speakers!

Creaky Boards MySpace

Reference: Public Libraries And eBooks

The fine folks over at MobileRead have put together a wiki for public libraries that offer eBooks.

I live in New York City, so I don't have to pay the $100/year fee to get an NYPL card.

Suck it up, baby!

Besides, for that $100 fee, you are competing against my domestic borrowing rights!

I hate you for doing that. You know that, don't you?

The Zero-Gravity Toilet Of Adobe DRMed ePub

There's a classic shot in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey when the main character has to first consult instructions on how to use a zero-gravity toilet:

Imagine having to through all that!

And yet -- there is something actually worse than that.

It's the instructions on how to go about using Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks!

Here are the Zero-Gravity toilet instructions:

Now contrast the amount of text there to instructions for using Adobe DRMed ePub:

Can you imagine the poor technically unsophisticated schmo having to deal with all that?

"For God's sake, all I want to do is read eBooks!!!"

Really, it turns out it's easier to take a shit in space than to deal with Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks!