Archive for September, 2009

Ratio of SF Readers to Writers

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Someone just forwarded one of those funny emails that proves that the number of people who enjoy Jazz is actually less than the number of people who want to play Jazz.

It occurrs to me that similar arguments can be used to show that the actual number of people who enjoy pure science fiction (no zombies, demons, vampires or elves) in reality is less than the number of people who aspire to be science fiction writers.

There is lots of evidence to support this. For instance the combined subscriptions of the top science fiction magazines is well under 100,000 and the number of short story submissions to these magazines is pushing 50,000. It might be easy to come up with the math to show that the number of pure science fictions fans who subscribe to science fiction magazines is less than the number of people submitting stories to science fiction magazines. What remains is to factor in the submission rates at all the SF magazines on Ralan’s website and compare that to the number of page views they get for their stories as compared to their submission guidelines pages.

I have no doubt that at least 3/4 of all of the readers of SF magazines and websites are wannabe writers, and only 1/4 of them actually read SF for pleasure.

eBay Partner Network Quality Clicks starts tomorrow

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

One of my best revenue sources lately has been eBay Partner Networks. The way it works is that eBay will give you money if you send them buyers. It used to work that you got a chunk of the auction fees when someone was a high bidder on an auction. My site used to clean up because amplifiers typically go for over $500. I devised some fancy eBay searches that made finding a good amp easy, and they worked because my surfers are buying thousands of dollars worth of amps every month.

The problem is that eBay has fiddled with a good thing. They decided that they would use “quality clicks” to filter out the people who would have bought an amp anyway, even if they did not use my links. As a result of this “quality”, my revenue was significantly cut. I still get enough money that I won’t throw out the eBay clicks, but the days of big checks are now gone.

Starting tomorrow my eBay partner network income will be about 1/3 of what it was. I was having fun making up new searches for my surfers to find stuff on eBay, but it is a waste of time now.

Mmmmm – Warm

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

We had a load of wood delivered. Erica sent me some pictures.

The first picture is the wood dropped off in the driveway. About a third of a cord. We’ll stack this for easy access along the hedge. Those ladder-like things you can see are a frame for stacking wood that I made out of salvaged boards from when I fixed up the deck.

This is a picture of an area inside the fence where we can stack about 4 cords. This looks like about a cord and a half. In all Erica ordered 4 cords, which is about what we would use in a cold winter.

My WordPress Plugin is Live – Cherchez Le Trafic

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I wrote a plugin for the WordPress Blogging software. It fixes issues where the page name has changed. I needed this after I migrated from to WordPress. Many of the posts had different names and Google was not sending surfers to the right page.

It has been up about a half an hour and I have already had 12 downloads.

This is exciting – well maybe not for you. If I publish a short story, maybe 50 people will read it, but if I write a program that is useful thousands or tens of thousands will use it. Cherchez Le Trafic – I guess I am a much more successful programmer than story writer.

Stella Maeve on CSI

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Jim just sent me a note reminding me that Thursday is not only Poker night in Upper Nyack, but “Watch Stella on CSI” night.

Stella plays a stripper on Thursday night’s CSI.

A porn producer and a drug dealer are murdered in an upscale Las Vegas area, and the investigation centers on the members of the affluent neighborhood.

Stripper? Polly and Jim must be so proud.

Stella Maeve has been on Law and Order several times. She has a recurring role on Gossip Girl. She is a costar in the Film Runaways, and she is currently filming a new movie on location in upstate NY.

Permalink Finder Plugin Released

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I put a few of my programming projects on my domain I decided to use it to keep my programming projects separate from the rest of my work.

The stuff that I wrote for this blog in order to correct the migration problems that I had with going from blogger to WordPress is working well. I cleaned it up and formalized it. The next step is to get it listed in WordPress’ repository.

You can read about the plugin here:
Blogs Eye – Permalink Finder Plugin Released.

I will now go on to build a bunch more of these. I have ideas and they are going to make me millions.

Swapping the Radio in a Ford Ranger

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I bought my 2009 Ford Ranger under the Cash for Clunkers program. It was a great deal, but I had to take what the dealers had and that was a bare bones model with just a radio. I wanted to play my old Cassette tapes. I have a few thousand dollars worth of cassettes. I have bypassed CDs completely and the few I have I’ve already ripped to MP3 format and uploaded to my iPod.  The cassettes are mostly books on tape and I want to listen to them for the next ten years.

I looked for a good replacement for my radio-only audio system, but was surprised to find a  Radio/Cassette player that was pulled from a 2003 Ranger at a garage sale last Saturday. This model sells for $10 to $20 on eBay, but I was lucky enough to get it for $5.

I needed to pull the existing radio and drop in the new one. As a far as I could tell Ford Radios from 1993 up will fit in a Ford Ranger as long as they are the same “double din” format. There are four holes in the radio and Ford will sell you a tool for pulling the radio using these holes.

I decided to try making my own tool from a coat hanger. I cut the corners off a metal coat hanger and bent it so that is will fit into the holes.

You can see how I made it. The important part is that the two ends be the same depth so that they go in straight and the same distance on both sides.

Push the two tools into the holes as far as they go. As you push in, angle the tool towards the center. This moves the tool over the tabs so they can be depressed.

When the tools are pushed in as far as they will go, press then outward from the center and this will pull in the tabs holding the radio . If you do it right, the radio will pull out by gently pulling on the tools (still pressing them outward).

The radio should fall out practically into your lap.

You can see the back of the radio, and the antenna and cable connector should pull out easily. There is a tab on the cable connector that you have to push in and it will let you pull the connector out easily.

My truck had just one connector, but yours might have the super duper multiple speaker system that requires another connector.

The replacement radio had another place for a second connector, but my connector fit in the smaller one.

I plugged things in and it all fit. I was concerned that the new radio had a place for two plugs, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about.

I pushed it into the dash until it snapped in place.

I turned it on and, Voila, it worked perfectly.

The whole thing took under three minutes. It took longer than that to find my diagonal cutters to clip the coat hanger into the right size.

Spent Sunday on a Road Trip

Monday, September 28th, 2009

It rained the whole day on Sunday, so I did not get any pictures. It was a great trip, though. Erica and I went up to the Rose Hill Farm in Red Hook, NY. They have Pick-Your-Own deals, but the rain was too much. We bought 1/2 peck (a small shopping bag) of  macoun apples and a wonderful apple pie. The apple pies are the old fashioned kind with a thick crispy crust and tart firm apples. It is very different from supermarket apple mush pies with soft crusts.

We then plugged in Millertom, NY into the GPS. Erica had a recollection of the place from an article she read a few years ago. It is a cute little town in Columbia County, NY right on the Connecticut border.

Millerton was a cute little town, but when we wanted lunch only the town diner had empty seats – for good reason. Erica and I sat down and then left because of the unsanitary look of the place. There was a “Tea Bar”, but it only had a few tables and none were empty. There was a Coffee Bar, but the prices were very high and the place had a line waiting for tables.

We stopped at an Organic Farm stand and I bought an apple cider doughnut to keep my blood sugar up. We also bought organic baby beets for dinner when we got home, which were wonderful.

We went through some of the most beautiful country in the area. It was alternately horse farms and rugged hills. There were no flat places and the ride was wonderful. If I go again I will bring the big Nikon camera and take pictures.

The foliage was just starting to change. On the hilltops there was lots of color starting to appear, mostly yellows from the sugar maples. This will darken up to reds as the month goes on and the oaks start to change.

I used about half a tank of gas in the new truck. Good mileage was one of the reasons that I bought it. I had a great time, even though I had about 4 hours behind the wheel. I am looking forward to the next road trip. I hope we can go gallivanting again.

Bhangra Bistar – DIL BOLE HADIPPA

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I am not a fan or anything, but sometimes something so totally different helps you find your way out of a dull mindset

I like the energy of these things. American music seems so dopey and vague sometimes.

Off today

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The consultants where I work are forced to take a certain number of days off each quarter. I have to take a few days off before Oct 1.

I am also not allowed to take off days towards the end of the year. This was because one of us saved up and took off the whole month of December and all of his projects either failed or caused political problems because he left them unfinished.

I will not be able to take many days off for Christmas Shopping so if you were expecting a present…

The Science Fiction League and Hugo Gernsback

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Frederik Pohl has a nice article about The Science Fiction League. I found an original SF League membership card on eBay and I made copies of it. I put a high resolution copy of the card into a standard printer business card template so you can print your own cards.

WARNING: this is nigh onto 30 megs of download and may take a while.

Print your own Membership Cards: Download Science Fiction League Membership card Template

Thanks to a reader, Dennis McCunney, there is a zip of the adobe PDF version that is a much smaller download of the Science Fiction League cards.

Here are the the images of the card.

The Way the Future Blogs, an online memoir by science fiction writer Frederik Pohl » Blog Archive » Let There Be Fandom: The Science Fiction League.

Now You Can Change Themes on Wandering

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I added a theme switcher and a couple of extra themes. If you look at the sidebar on the right you can see where you can switch to a Very Simple Text theme and a Mobile theme.

I figure Justine reads this blog using her iPhone so she can use the Mobile theme. With this theme everything should fit on the screen and there are no big graphics or javascript that would screw up a simple mobile phone.

The Very Simple Text Theme lets you see the blog as a no frills black on white “fluid” style blog for all of you who hate the ugly colors and graphics.

I am looking for a better mobile theme. The Carrington Mobile theme was way too complicated and I found it difficult to find the right place to add the theme switcher PHP code. For a while I could not get out of the mobile theme. I put it down in the footer, but it doesn’t look like it belongs.

I would like to add more themes, including my new Wandering theme. I am looking for a very simple Mobile phone or iPhone theme and a theme for the hearing impaired who like my friend Art who uses a screen reader. A large font theme might be good, too.

The theme switcher requires a little PHP coding to make it work, but other than that it is a good thing.

If there are any suggestions, please let me know.

Personal Desktop Supercomputer

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Silicon Graphics has released a desktop workstation that qualifies as a super computer. My guess that it can be configured at about 50 teraflops. (A teraflop is a trillion floating point arithmetic operations per second.)

Hans Moravec estimated the computing power of the human brain at 100 teraflops, although some other researches have placed it out at 1,000 times higher. Regardless, we are in the right neighborhood if a desktop computer can even approach the speed of a human brain.

The human brain, in addition to the computing power of billions of neurons, has some fancy programming going on that will not be accurately simulated for a while. The fact that we are creating computers now which are nearly as powerful as a human brain does not mean that anyone has been able to make a computer that thinks like a human. That is ways off (not too far, though).

If trends hold then the computers should continue to increase in capacity and power exponentially, doubling every 18 months. There are some physical limits to the current technologies, but that doesn’t mean that new technologies will not appear to keep the growth on track.

In 2015, then, desktop computers should be at least 16 times more powerful than they are now. Super computers which are a few orders of magnitude more powerful than this desktop, will have the capacity a dozen human brains. Within our lifetimes there will be cheap computers that are smarter than ourselves living in our cell phones.

What will happen, and I am sure of this, some clever programming will result in a human equivalent intelligence program that will be several thousand times smarter than the smartest human who ever lived. There will be lots of these computers working on the difficult unanswered questions of our time. They will solve health issues for us resulting in very long lives. We will get free energy and perhaps even the ability to travel to the stars.

It all starts around 2015, but may be as late as 2025.

Until then, be nice to your computer.

SGI Unveils Octane III Personal Supercomputer.

My WordPress Configuration

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I wrote up all the details of what I’ve done to get this blog running on WordPress. If you have a WordPress blog, you might read it. It is quite a bit of reading, though.

My WordPress Configuration | Wanderings.