Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Hi, everyone. After a lot of thought and a few conversations with a few people, I've decided to stop doing RunBinary.

Why? I think it can be best summed up in an email conversation I had with Cory Doctorow. Basically, he was advising me that all releasing your work online does is to allow you a way to evangelize fans. You have to be able to push your work onto other people and have them want to turn someone else on to it. You kind of have to be this taste-making marketing machine (my words, not his.) I'm just not very good at that. Better in my case, I think, to concentrate on actually writing things and not trying to "network" the site everywhere, because all that does is leave a bad taste in my mouth.

So I think I'll stick with submitting my work to print publishers. As much as I would have loved to be on the forefront of the digital literature revolution, I just don't think I'm cut out for it.

I'm still going to keep the blog up, as I kind of enjoy writing in it from time to time. I'm happy with what the RunBinary experience did for me; I've got some new stories and it's helped me to get work done on my own deadlines. Perhaps one day I'll come back to it, but for now it's just not a good fit for me.

Thanks to everyone that read my stories.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Today I would like to announce that with 1157 page impressions and 2 clicks, I have now made $.01 from the good people at Google Adsense.

It's hard to know who to thank at a time like this. When I initially decided to put adsense banners up, it was on the off chance that if for some reason I had an unexpected (and unlikely) avalanche of traffic that would put me out of pocket on bandwidth I could at least recoup a little money back...but this is totally unexpected. This is just a completely spontaneous windfall for me. I mean...what do I do with it?

Well, if a hundred times more people visited I could conceivably buy something off the McDonald's dollar menu, but by the time it happened I think inflation and the rising cost of processed meat would make that a financially unsound investment. If fifty times as many visited I could get through the toll on GA-400, but I never really use 400 anyway (but I never have enough change to get through anyway, so perhaps this would be a wiser move that I would have initially thought.) If two hundred thousand times as many people came I could finally buy a Wii! That sounds like a good goal to shoot for.

Not that it matters yet. Google won't release any money to you until you've made $100 anyway, so I have a little while to plan.

Thank you, Google Adsense!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tales From Music School: Part One

Many people who know me now are surprised to learn that I used to be a jazz musician. Or at least, a jazz musician in training. I went to Georgia State University for two years for jazz, then transferred to the very prestigious University of North Florida for another two. It's a fascinating culture filled with some very interesting people and I've always wanted an excuse to write about it.

First, I want to start with what was a very influential precursor to my college career, the GHP program. If you've never heard of it, it's a summer program in Georgia that takes rising juniors and seniors and basically puts them into a University setting for six weeks. You live in the dorms, you take classes. I got in through the jazz program, taught by a funny little man named Fritz. I had elected to go there instead of on a trip to Canada with the rest of my high school band, which I kind of regretted at the time.

My roomate was this little puckish guy named Michael. He was this sort of rebellious Catholic intellectual who described his religion as "sandpapering your soul" whenever you did something bad. He was there for Social Studies I think. We used to discuss philosophy in the way only pretentious teenagers can; vigorously and very knowingly. We had cable in our room (a new experience for me. Back home in rural Georgia I was just ecstatic to get the UHF channels) and he and I discovered Space Ghost together.

[Side Note: it's actually amazing how influential something like that could be. We thought Space Ghost was the fucking greatest thing in the world. The. Fucking. Greatest. I actually went in some of my free time to look on the internet for more information about it. It was only the second time I'd ever been on the internet and to think that when I looked at the Space Ghost site that was up then I was looking into my own future. I ended up working with many of the people who were responsible for that site and what would be the first glimmerings of Adult Swim. If I had never watched that show with Michael, where would I be now?]

The jazz program itself was a mishmash of egos and more egos. It comes with the territory. I was a flashy, prideful trumpet player back then. I was into Clifford Brown and Arturo Sandoval. High notes and fast lines. Problem was, I never learned how to improvise the right way. It was unfathomable to me at that time that someone could actually read every single chord change and improvise to it. So like any pretentious ass would, I took shortcuts. The chromatic scale was my friend because no matter what you played, you were only a half step away from the right note. And I could play it fast. So the first night we were there we had a jam session.

A note about jam sessions. Later I would realize what they really were: masturbation sessions where instrumentalists got to pull their cocks out and compare sizes. The song we played that night was Dizzy Gillespie's A Night in Tunisia, as cliche a jam session song as you could ask for. It also featured a nice break in between choruses so those of us who couldn't keep up with the changes would know where were were.

I came out blazing. I stepped up, put my Harmon mute in ("yeah," they said, only because they'd seen Miles with a Harmon and that meant it was the Real Deal) and played as fast and as high as I could. People were floored, I think, with my speed and seeming virtuosity. It wasn't until two weeks later that the whole thing collapsed when someone thought to ask "Hey...are you just playing the chromatic scale?"

I met two people there that would be a great influence on me later on in college. The first was the other trumpet player, Tommy. He was a jerk, but a nice guy. If you know somebody like him you'll know what I mean. He spent the entire time calling out "Nice!" whenever someone made a mistake. He was pretty funny, so we didn't mind.

The second was Clyde, a tenor saxophonist from south Georgia. In an act of very uncharacteristic gregariousness, I invited myself to sit with him at lunch one day because I liked the way he played and he seemed like a cool guy. He seemed to have kept to himself until then. From that point on Clyde was one of my closest friends. He knew I was a faker, but he hung out with me anyway.

Other vague memories of GHP: Fritz used to sing the drum parts out like "Kang ta kang, ta gonk gonk," which was hilarious. I took a philosophy course as one of my minors and learned about Immanuel Kant. Read "The Island of Dr. Moreau" in another English minor class and somehow, while discussing it, revealed the ending of Phenomenon -- which apparently most of the class had not seen and now, because of me, never would. There was a young alto sax player named Dusty who was kind of a hotshot and took twenty minute solos. The other alto sax player, Reed, looked exactly like me. It was uncanny. One or two of the other kids from my school left the program early, apparently unable to deal with six weeks away from home.

One of the things I remember best about the whole experience (and I'll wrap it up with this) is hanging out with Michael and the small group of friends we accumulated. It may be difficult to understand why that was so remarkable, but in the circles I was in back in high school, things just didn't work that way. You had friends, but they were callous and funny, never thoughtful and nice. On July 19th, my birthday, I had to skip lunch because we had a rehearsal for something or other. Turns out Michael and the rest had planned a little birthday party for me, which I couldn't go to. They got me a card and everything. I was just blown away by it, and to date it's still one of the nicest, most unexpected things anyone's ever done for me.

Anyway, that's all for GHP. Not a lot to really say there, except that it really helped formulate my college years, which is where things really gets more interesting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Digg Me!

Hey, somebody's put in a Digg story about the site. How awesome is that? So...digg me already!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Review: The Android's Dream

Every year at Christmas I get gift cards from various family members who A) either remember my great love of reading or B) are heavily prompted by yours truly as soon as the temperature starts to drop that damn it, I've run out of books again! So, armed with about $100 in Barnes & Noble gift cards I stormed the bookstore down the street from work the day after Christmas, ready to fill up my reading calender for the next six months.

I left with no money and only three books.

I could blame the fact that there's almost nothing of value being written in science fiction these days (somewhat true), but it's really because the three books I found were kind of expensive, but I couldn't think of one I didn't desperately want to read. I got Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker, The Android's Dream, by John Scalzi and Game Writing: Narrative for Video Games, by a few members of the IGDA Writers' Special Interest Group. But it's Android's Dream I want to talk about now.

This was a very entertaining book. My tastes of late have been kind of dark and angsty, so it was nice to delve into what Scalzi calls on his site his "popcorn book." It most definitely is that. I came away from the novel not dissatisfied, but not full, either. Let me put it this way: Android's Dream is no classic. But I had a lot of fun reading it, and I would encourage anyone who likes words to check it out.

Basically, Harry Creek works for the government, telling people (and aliens) bad news. Why? Mainly because his Army training leave him unfazed in the face of distraught extraterrestrials, but also because he's got a buddy higher up in the government, Ben Javna, who at the beginning of this book very desperately has need of Creek's unique skill set. Creek has to find a particular sheep so that he can save the world from a mass alien invasion.

What I found really ironic was how much this book smacked of Battlefield Earth. Ironic, because featured prominently in the novel is the Church of the Evolved Lamb, a religious sect based on the rambling prophecies of a bad science fiction writer (of course the Church in Android knows the prophecies are crap. They just want to see if they can make the prophecies come true.) It's nowhere the length or scope of Battlefield, and is considerably better written, but I can't shake the feeling of similarity, especially as the book starts to wind down.

Anyway, to sum up, this was a good, if mildly fluffy, read. Better than Mathematicians in Love, for sure. The characters seem human, and so do the aliens, which is always a nice touch in a funny book. The only thing better than laughing at our own foibles is laughing at those same foibles in things different from us. I'll give this one a "Sure, you should read it."

Thursday, February 8, 2007


So after seeing some videos of the nifty new Beryl desktop for Linux, I thought I'd give it a try. I'd never used Linux before, but every computer geek I know seems to swear by it. After talking to my friend Austin, I downloaded Knoppix and gave it a try.

Knoppix was cool, though I couldn't get Beryl to run on my laptop since no one makes 3D Acceleration drivers for my crappy little SiS graphics chipset. So I brought it in to work and gave it a try on my more powerful machine here. Success! I played with the cool 3D Desktop stuff for a bit, but running an OS off a CD isn't really designed for speed and it was hanging up a lot. The multiple desktops mapped on a 3D cube was really cool, but would have been more useful at home where I don't have dual monitors.

Since I'd found Linux somewhat interesting I decided to dual-boot Ubuntu with my XP on my laptop. I backed up my files, but restructuring my partitions was pretty nerve-wracking. I didn't want to have to reinstall everything if I screwed this up. But I got it all working fine and now my laptop dual-boots XP and Ubuntu.

One thing I can say about Linux is that in no way is it user-friendly. Really, all these people giving out Linux CDs in front of Microsoft events are deluded. For ease of use, Windows wins that battle hands down. Almost everything works in Windows automatically, with Linux I have to customize it all myself just to make the graphics cards and the wireless cards work the way they're supposed to. No way in the world the casual computer user will ever convert to Linux until more processes are automated. Even the "Human-minded" Ubuntu takes a serious investment of time to get running properly. Honestly, I've spent most of my time trying to get Linux configured how I need it to run and haven't actually done any work on the machine.

So I spent the better part of a day trying to see if there was a way to trick my crappy laptop into running 3D Acceleration, only to fail miserably. At the end of the day I couldn't even run glxinfo without the machine crashing. So I decided to install it on my desktop HP computer at home that has a much better graphics card, even though it's a bit older. I got it all installed last night and it looks like I'll be able to install Beryl, but I had to go to sleep before I could do it.

This morning my wife complained to me that my laptop is running really slowly and froze on the screen saver. I checked it and it was being pretty sluggish. I wonder if I took too much disk space away from the Windows partition. I'll probably uninstall if from my laptop for now until I get the desktop version working. If I end up using Linux all the time after I've got it where I want it, maybe I'll re-install.

All in all, for me the jury's still out on Linux. Check with me in a week or two and we'll see if I really like it or not.