Derek's Blog Page

Can a libertarian curmudgeon survive in a post 9/11 America? Is it possible to create the perfect meal on a Baby Q grill? Will Elaine finally succumb to her innermost desires? Check out my novels - which I am excerpting to separate blogs as I write them. Just click on my Profile button to access their links.

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Location: Citrus Heights, California


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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jim Baen, founder of Baen Books

Is in the hospital after suffering a stroke. People, please keep this man in your prayers. He is the inspiration behind the most vital and innovative publishing company currently in business.

Many of you may not read science fiction books, so you may feel that Baen Books is nothing of value to you. This is false. Baen Books has been at the forefront of the fight to make books easier to read, not by 'dumbing down' the works released, but by creating Webscriptions and the Free Library. In both endeavors, Jim Baen, and Baen Books have fought hard to make ebooks available in a wide range of ebook file formats - and has done so without resorting to the vile practice of Digital Rights Management (DRM) which - DRM - makes it difficult for a purchaser of ebooks to transfer those already purchased ebooks from desktop computer to laptop or PDA. Look at the three other major ebook companies, Fictionwise, Mobipocket and eReader and you'll notice that you must constantly re-register your ereader applications on each new device. And if you choose the wrong format, you could find that you simply cannot use your already purchased ebooks on that device. (Here I'm specifically thinking of Microsoft Reader - which requires Windows or Windows Mobile and an MS Passport account to 'activate' the reader and the ebooks. Switching to a Linux system? You'll have to re-purchase all your MS Reader ebooks in a new format. Same if you should suddenly decide to switch to the Palm PDA line from the Windows Mobile/Pocket PC variety.)

But Baen refused to put such restrictions on his ebook releases. Further, for older ebooks, he's changed them from requiring a modest purchase (ranging from $4 to $6) to being completely free. Those you can get at the Baen Free Library. And they're good books! I recommend you start with David Weber's classic "On Basilisk Station", a science fiction story much like the "Horatio Hornblower" series by E.M. Foster. "On Basilisk Station" introduces Honor Harrington who is fleshed out in the following books. And it's free for the downloading!

Other publishers start from the view that all ebook readers are thieves and implement ebook formats based upon that premise. Baen Books presumes his customers are honest. And they reward him by buying both hard-copy (sometimes called 'dead tree') and ebooks of each new title. Most other publishers cannot make the same claim.

So keep this man, this innovator, this giant among publishers in your prayers. We need more like him.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe to...

Watch TV, along comes MeowMix House! Yep. Animal Planet has decided to spoof "Big Brother" with it's own 'cat' house reality show. It shows on June 16th. I don't know if I dare watch it.

Seriously, can television get any dumber than this? I thought we'd hit rock bottom with the Osbornes, but to have a spoof of an absolutely stupid and unredeemable 'reality' show. Besides, it's about cats!Now if it had been about dogs...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Top 50 Searches

The Top 50 searches for the week ending June 3, 2006. Can anyone guess which was the most popular search according to the Lycos search engine? Yep. It was NBA basketball. With the championship going on, no surprise that made it on the list, or that it was number one.

And I can understand why MySpace made it up to the number two slot. I mean, has anyone in America not heard about all the predators deluding children and using MySpace identities to seduce the children? I well imagine that for every ten guys out there trying to glean the slightest bit of pre-game information in order to make the best bets there are nine mothers searching for tips on how to recognize when their children are at risk and how to protect the children. I applaud every parent taking the time to find out more about what the children are doing on MySpace. I'm sure the vast majority of MySpace inhabitants are no threat and on the level, but it just takes one pervert coming after a child to ruin the life of that child and his or her parents. When it comes to internet stalkers of children, I almost agree there ought to be a law.

As long as Pamela Anderson has been around, I'm surprised to see she's still a hot topic for searches. What the fascination is, I cannot imagine. Sure, she's got a body that won't quit, courtesy of some of the finest plastic surgeons money can buy, but she's got almost no talent in my opinion. Yet she managed to hit number five. But it doesn't surprise me that Paris Hilton made it to number four. Yeesh! C'mon people. Get a life! To every geek and nerd on the face of the Earth, neither Paris Hilton nor Pamela Anderson will ever marry you! Of course, the same could be said about every single woman making the Top 50.

Still, being a guy, a single guy at that, I can understand the occasional need to see what a beautiful woman looks like and how the beautiful people live. And, being a guy I guess I can understand the searches for sports. I repeat, I guess. I'm not all that into sports so I don't really become so obsessed I must know every score, move and illness each and every player has or makes. I like the video games much more. So it doesn't surprise me to see that XBox and Playstation 2 made the list. What about the Playstation Portable (PSP) or the Nintendo Dual? Are they already that out of date?

And who gave them permission to sell Neopets!

However, what's up with these searches for the cartoons? I mean, they're listed in the TV guides, who needs to Google or Yahoo on Dragonball, Naruto or Sailor Moon? (And Sailor Moon is so not cool!)

I am somewhat confused about Final Fantasy and Sims making it to the list. I'd have thought these games already had about every single player hooked into the world-wide honey-trap. Now I don't know much about Runescape. Perhaps someone can fill me in on it's interest factor.

It's rather interesting that only four, as far as I can tell, guys made it into the list. Eminem? Hasn't he passed his prime, even as an actor? I can see the draw of Taylor Hicks and Clay Aiken because we just wrapped up the latest edition of "Let's go Crazy Over American Idol". Is it as much of a draw outside the US, or is it just an American hobby? Someone drop in a post and let me know.

But who in heck is Zac Eforn and why is he popular? Or LimeWire, I'm pretty sure this is a band. Is it's music any good? Anyway, just so you can see what I'm talking about, here's the list from June 3rd.

  1. NBA Basketball

  2. MySpace

  3. RuneScape

  4. Paris Hilton

  5. Pamela Anderson

  6. Poker

  7. Golf

  8. NFL Football

  9. Pokemon

  10. Britney Spears

  11. Apple

  12. Spyware

  13. Jessica Simpson

  14. Soccer

  15. Baseball

  16. Dragonball Z

  17. Naruto

  18. Barbie

  19. WWE

  20. LimeWire

  21. Jessica Alba

  22. Jennifer Aniston

  23. Jennifer Lopez

  24. Sims

  25. Angelina Jolie

  26. Shakira

  27. Lindsay Lohan

  28. InuYasha

  29. Christina Aguilera

  30. Anna Kournikova

  31. Taylor Hicks

  32. PlayStation 2

  33. Anna Nicole Smith

  34. Mariah Carey

  35. Hilary Duff

  36. Carmen Electra

  37. Prom Hairstyles

  38. XBox

  39. Eminem

  40. Clay Aiken

  41. Beyonce

  42. Harry Potter

  43. Neopets

  44. Father's Day

  45. Final Fantasy

  46. Zac Eforn

  47. Candice Michelle

  48. Sailor Moon

  49. Salma Hayek

  50. Da Vinci Code

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Grind

I'm not talking about too much work. I'm talking about grinding spices. I went on a small, fixed income before I became interested in grilling and barbecuing. So I never got around to buying a spice grinder. Instead I made do with Schilling or McCormick packaged, pre-ground spices.

And that's okay, especially as I'm still learning the ins and outs of preparing rubs, sauces, marinades and the like. But I've always enjoyed the freshness of the black pepper ground right onto my food, like they do for you at those fancy restaurants. Without a grinder or even a pepper mill at home, I was forced to shake out the powdery stuff from my bright white and red tin - Sigh.

Until this week. This week I discovered the McCormick's Grinders. Right now I've got one for Pizza, that dispenses freshly ground hot pepper flakes, and Peppercorn, which has a mix of black, yellow, green and red peppercorns ready for me to grind right onto my hot food! If you're on a budget and never got around to buying a dedicated spice grinder, rush right out and try these new grinder/dispensers.

As I grow and dry my own hot peppers, I'm going to pry one of these dispensers apart when I've used it up and I'm going to attempt to re-stock with my home-grown hot pepper bits. Speaking of home-grown hot peppers, has anyone a decent technique for drying them in the oven? Or maybe you've got a method for roasting them on a Baby Q. If so, please post it in a comment.

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's amazing...

How often I plan to actually post something to this blog, yet I forget to do so. The life of a busy man, for sure. Not!

If anything, you probably know by now that I'm not a working person. I found myself unable to work a regular, nine-to-five job and have been living the 'free' life on Disability. Parents, if you have slacker kids, just point them here. Kids, don't deliberately do anything to make yourself unable to work later in life. Living on a (very) fixed income is no fun - you can't afford to go around buying all those nifty iPods, jetskis and Nike tennis shoes any time you feel in the mood.

Which is why I've been modifying my blogs to add 'external source' content. You may have noticed a few discrete buttons and banner ads on the old blog page. This, according to just about every financial 'self-help' book I've read is called working smarter or letting your interests work for you. And I won't complain as I've already managed to earn 78 cents in the last 8 days from you gentle readers clicking on said 'external content'.

And that brings up what I want to talk about. External Content. Pay-per-click. Internet income. Is it a smart thing? I think so, even though I'm not swimming in generated income, it has begun to work. Why? Because the advertisers know that (In my case just a few.) people who visit this site may be interested in their products and may choose to visit their site upon seeing these 'external content' display - oh, let's just call them advertisements - on my blog.

And you can, if you have a website or a blog, do the same thing. Now you can certainly do it the hard way; you can go out, design a website, post blog notices that you have so many pixels available, write rules as to what content you find 'acceptable', negotiate rates for the service offered, answer all the questions which (hopefully) flood your email box; or you can take the easy route and let someone else do most of the work while you settle back and generate content that will bring in the visitors. I chose the easy way. You can do the same thing by clicking on the AdSense referral button in my sidebar. Or you can participate in similar 'affiliate' or 'associate' programs offered by the two other advertisers sponsored there.

I don't know what your situation is like. You may have as much time on your hands as I do, or you may be slaving away at your local Starbucks just to make ends meet. If the former, and if you really get into designing, copywriting, programming and just being very geek, by all means, do it the hard; otherwise, remember the Force and check out these affiliate programs. It'll be the easiest $0.01 (penny) you ever earned.

I've been studying about generating income through the use of blog content and advertisements and I must say there are some wonderful books and websites on the subject. Obviously the books are not free, but much of the website content is and, of course, registering for these affiliate programs is as well. And if you're reading this blog, you probably have an opinion you'd like to express, so why not generate a couple of bucks while doing so?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

One of my readers has pointed out...

that the excerpting for With Hesitant Stride just doesn't make any sense. In other words, it would be much easier to read if I took the excerpts, combined them, separated them into chapters and re-posted along chapter lines. That makes sense to me. So in the next couple of days, I'll be re-organizing "With Hesitant Stride" and adding the new work I've done in the last week.

Please, feel free to post comments, feedback and suggestions.