Archive for February, 2006

1 billion iTunes for iPod

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Apple had its one billionth iTunes download last night. 99 cents a download for most of them. Read the Daily News story: 1 billion iTunes for iPod
We’ve had a several thousand free MP3 story downloads at, many were for Harmonica Instruction, but the Short Stories are cranking along with a nice growth curve. I expect 100% per month growth for the next near.
Arthur Sanchez has a new story up. Jamie Schmidt’s story was very cool.
We are getting multiple hits from iTunes software checking the Sci-Fi Story PodCast.
It helps, of course, that I have a couple of my own stories there as well.

Download them to your iPod NOW!

webcast.berkeley | Courses | Podcast Feeds

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

The University of California – Berkeley has put a bunch of audio lectures on the internet as podcasts. I listened to a few and they are compressed, that is to say the audio quality has been reduced and the top and bottom frequencies taken out to decrease the size of the audio file. It makes it somewhat hard to listen to, but if you turn up the volume on your computer or MP3 player, it should be just fine.

They have a few good lectures on Computer Science topics. I listened to part of the Data Structures lecture. The lectures range from Biology, Psychology, PolySci, History Physics to Art.

Get the iTunes software at or if your are in an experimental mood, try working with SongBird.

webcast.berkeley | Courses | Podcast Feeds

New Audio Story posted – and other news

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

I posted The Thing in the Doghouse at It is the longest story yet. It was 3850 words and is just about 20 minutes long. The 5 minutes per thousand rule is holding. I added a stupid banjo riff to the front and back of the story. I have read that some sites prefer a professional production including musical intro. The original was 28 minutes and I knocked out the re-done sections. I make lots of mistakes, but I have to keep going. A few times I had to read a whole paragraph four times to get it right. You can’t do it perfectly so you have to do your best and edit out the flubs and coughs and cat noises.

I used a piece of software called “Groove Mechanic” in addition to Audacity to edit this piece. There was quite a bit of hiss from the computer fan and Groove Mechanic knocked it right out without adding any distortion to the voice. It may have added a slight echo effect – but that’s good. I downloaded the free demo version, but in 15 days I’ll have to pay for it. I’ll see if there is a free alternative.

I received an audio flash story from Jeffrey Lyons that has a great dynamite delivery. I will be putting it on the site as soon as Jeffrey writes his teaser.

Free Audio Fiction Downloads

I blogged on BlogsEye about how I’ve discovered a way to intercept the Apache Web Server read of an MP3 file and replace the content. I am using this now on the stories subdirectory of to track the downloads of the stories. There’s a raw log at
Since I’ve added the code, it is obvious that the Juke riff tutorial is the most popular. The page has not received that many request. I include the file, the date, and the referrer. The files without a referrer are coming in through itunes software. I should include the user-agent header and then it would be more obvious.

My logs show that the stories are getting about 50 downloads each per week and that the tutorials are getting several hundred per week. As the stories age, this will go down.

I am paying for about 5 clicks per day from AdWords. I don’t know if this is helping or not.

I found out over the weekend that Acid Xpress from Sony is crippled and has a counter as to how many times you can use it. The hell with that! It got uninstalled immediately. Don’t waste you time downloading it. It is not that interesting. I will be using the WAV files that came with it, though, to sweeten the production of short stories. There were some nice computer synthesized effects that would be good for hard SF stories.

I agreed to do all of the work on AstoundingTales II – Flash. I will finance it and use my Indian printer. I will get Arthur’s recommendations and mail out notification to the authors. I need about 30-40 flash stories at 2+ pages each to make a book. The rest is for illustrations, fillers and I will put a few of our non-fiction articles into the book.

Primal Truck has already agreed to let us use his work for the cover.

Subs ‘n Rejs

Friday, February 17th, 2006

After a long discussion with Arthur, I rewrote and resubbed my Gemlins Over Normandy story to The Harrow. They liked it and may buy it. I wrote this story for a historical specfic zine and it killed them. There are a some sites that like historical fantasy, but I never had the confidence in this story to send it out. It was too short (1900 words) and too simple. Brainstorming with Arthur gave me a few new ideas an I added 500 words to the story. I think that it’s a much tighter piece now. If The Harrow won’t finalize on it, I’ll try Tyree.

I have been subbing orphan stories to Baen. I sent them one of my all time favorites, The Break Out, but got the standard form response. I wonder what it takes to get them to look twice at a story? I am suspicious that they are full and are returning just about everything without doing more than looking at the author’s name and the first paragraph. I’m going to run them through every story that I’ve ever written, though. I’ll learn them the danger of having a three day response time.

Free Loop Sampler

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Get this CD. It comes with Acid Xpress and a whole bunch of music loop stuff. I don’t like computer music, but it is quite possible to mix up some nice background music or rhythm lines for your stories. You can download all of it from the Sony site, but it is nice to have it on CD and it is the right price – free.

Sony Media Software – Free Loop Sampler and Calendar

I will try this weekend to add music to the stories on

By the way, I’ve worked a little on the index page at AudioCD. I am also going to work on the software today and I should be able to have a dynamic listing of the stories from the database. I also want to download through a php program that checks permissions, counts the downloads and can update the author with their share of the profits. I am doing this through a .htaccess handler. We’ll see if it works.

Black Hole Extension

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

I have updated my critters black hole extensions. It shows 3 days activity by default and is a little easier to use now. Black Hole Extension

Crystal Fusion

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Portable fusion generator. It does not generate electricity, but neutrons. It could be used as a clean neutron source for medical imaging, but it has the potential of being a power source.
I remember seeing an “integrated circuit” hobby kit at an electronics store when I was a kid. The IC was about an inch long and had a couple of transistors embedded in a plastic lump. Now an IC can have millions of transistors. Now lets extend the development of this clunky device a few years to a gid of carbon nanotubes filled with deuterium embedded in a crystal matrix. Put a few milliamps across the ends of a centimeter cube and the surface to surface voltage jumps to 10V at 10 amps – enough to light a 100 wat bulb.
You laugh? We’ll see. It will be a tiny device like this that solves our oil woes.
RPI: News & Information – “Double Crystal Fusion” Could Pave the Way for Portable Device

Snow Bound

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

We got hit with just under two feet of snow. The first picture was at 10AM and we’ve received another few inchs since then.

Ollie found some antique quilt squares Erica is putting one eBay.

Snow Panorama

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

Here is a Panorama that I made with ULEAD 360. The software works, as you can see. It creates a very large MOV file that takes a while to load.
This is from my back yard. You can see the back of the house, the chicken coop. For those who knew me 30 years ago, this is approximately the spot where the out house was located. (I should have never torn it down).
Drag the mouse around to pan through the image.

I took the panorama down – it was freezing up computers – especially those on slow lines.

I will put a smaller one using my code up again soon.

Ollie is Famous

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

Ollie’s story is posted on the VCAH page.

Gardner Dozois on Accepting stories

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

There’s a very interesting discussion going on over at Asimov’s discussion board. I will quote Mr. Dozois, but you should click on the link to check out the discussion. The bbs uses frames so I can’t bookmark the actual discussion, but you can find it by looking for the topic “The Best SF Magazine” and scrolling down.

To answer Jim and later Robert’s question, yes, it has happened that I’ve rejected something from ASIMOV’S only to later pick the same story up for my Best of the Year anthology. This may happen because the story didn’t meet the needs of the magazine at the moment, it was a kind of story I had too many of in inventory, or because too many of that kind of story had appeared in the magazine recently, but frankly it can also happen because I fucked up–when I originally read the story, I didn’t warm to it, for any of a dozen reasons, including that I was in a bad mood that day or I read it too fast or whatever, and then when I RE-read it in some other market, it strikes me as a really good story, and I smack my forehead and say “Schmuck! How did you let this one get past you?” It’s a fact, unnerving as it may be for authors, that exactly the same story can read one way to an editor one day and without a word being changed read an entirely different way to the same editor on another, it just being the luck of the draw which way the editor is going to respond to it on any given day. I’ve also had it happen with my own work, at least two or three times, that an editor will reject a story, and then a week or two later I’ll get a note from them saying that they can’t get my story out of their mind and can then see it again, and they buy it this time around. I don’t remember ever doing quite that as an editor, but I can think of a dozen occasions when I went to the typewriter (yes, I used a typewriter at that point) and put paper in it and sat down to reject a story, even started typing the rejection letter, and then found myself hesitating, and then going back and reading the story again, and almost every time I ended up actually buying that story. I learned to listen to that hesitation, as a voice telling me, “You should look at this again.” That’s an editor’s instinct, and good editors learn to listen to their instincts.

I have never sent in to Asimov’s, but perhaps I should. There is much more at Speculations rumor mill about the Tone or Mood of magazines and the drift towards the dark side.

Last Weekend’s Images

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

First is an image of Jim Callan going to pocket at our weekly poker game last Saturday. Jim hardly ever loses and when he lost his openers and had to go back for more chips, I was lucky enough to be able to document the strange occurrence.

I was able to get some beautiful images of the ice forming around the edges of Rockland Lake. Click on the image to see the gallery.

Recorded another story: Frogs in Aspic

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Gracie helped me record another story: Frogs in Aspic. I also received a story from Frank Gibbard. I will be posting both of these on this afternoon as I have time.

The cats forced me to record the story three times. Finally, I had to lock myself in the bedroom with cats howling at the door (you can hear them faintly). They could not stand it that I was talking to the computer. They thought that I should be talking to them.

I will try a longer story next.

More POD economics

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

I just got the quote back from India for the generic project that I sent. I figured 128 pages and a 6×9 inch zine with #30 (very light) magazine stock. I specified 4 color #50 uncoated cover stock. It should have the look and feel of the Classic TV Guide – think b&w pages plus an uncoated cover (like F&SF). Best guess is $1.60 at qty 250 with a 14 day turn-around. 1/3 cost is shipping. If I wanted to go 6 weeks shipping I could save 45 cents a book.

I think the outlay of $400 is not too painful. I would charge $2.99 a book and that would leave room to sell to distributors and use amazon. An ISBN would add cost, but I am thinking of using an ISSN (like an ISBN, but for periodicals and it’s free). I have to see what amazon thinks about ISSN numbers and selling directly though their website.

The break even point will be around 100 full price books. 100 books is a record breaking best seller in the POD world. Of course, if I sell any through project pulp, or amazon, they take a hefty cut. Break even from these kinds of sales is probably closer to 250 sales. I will send out a bunch of copies to distributors and book chain stores, but don’t hold your breath.

When it comes down to it, the actual project might only be 80 or 100 pages so that would bring the weight and printing costs even lower, cutting down on losses.