Daily Archives: May 25, 2007

Technical Notes Update

Well, this is interesting: Apparently 1&1.com is about to institute a program in which it will offer one-click installation (and automatic updating) of various applications, including Joomla, Drupal, MediaWiki, PostNuke and XOOPS. Which is to say I won’t need to try to download and install these babies myself. Well, when this kicks in this has the potential of making my life a lot easier, in terms of updating the look/function of the site. I think I’ll hold up on making any major changes until this debuts.

Thanks everyone, however, for your thoughts on all the technical stuff; you gave me a lot to think about.

My Policy on Fanfic and Other Adaptations of My Work

In the wake of my recent posts about FanLib, and for other reasons, I’ve been asked a bit about how I feel about fan fiction in my universes and/or people adapting my work to other media (particularly film). So, here’s what I think about that, posted here so I can refer people back to it rather than say it over and over privately.

Note the following is not a legal agreement for anything. It’s just me talking in a theoretical sense.

First: I do retain and reserve all rights to my work. I’m not very squishy about that fact. Just so you know. If you play in my universe, you implicitly accept I have the right to come around, say “mine!” and then stomp off with all your pretty toys. Yeah, I know. I’m a dick. What can I say.

Second: As long as you can deal with that first point, as far as I’m concerned, you may play in my universe(s) as long as the emphasis is on “play.” This means that nothing you do in my universes may:

a) Generate any sort of economic benefit for you, in any form;
b) Generate any sort of economic benefit for any third party;
c) Cause me economic detriment of any sort.

Basically, don’t try to make any money of my universes, and please don’t do something that’s going to make it difficult for me to make money off my universes. My mortgages and my daughter’s college education fund thank you in advance.

That said, some quick thoughts on stuff in particular:

Fanfic: Have fun. Don’t show it to me. And for God’s sake, if you see me at a con, don’t tell me about this great John Perry/Lazarus Long/The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island slash you wrote/saw on a LiveJournal group. I don’t want to know. Seriously.

Fan art: I actually don’t mind seeing this, although you should know that me saying “Cool!” does not constitute canonical approval. As above, you can skip showing me the hentai or the yaoi, especially if it involves the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.

Filk: I can’t imagine why anyone would want to make filk out of any of my stuff, but hey, whatever.

Movie/TV scripts: We’re aggressively trying to sell movie/TV rights, so do keep all movie/TV adaptations for your own amusement/edification only, which is to say it would make me happy for you not to float them even as specs to agents, etc. Definitely don’t send these to me.

Audio/Podcast versions: These are also rights we’re shopping. Read it aloud for your own amusement; please don’t post or broadcast.

School projects: Some folks at design/animation/art schools have contacted me wanting to know if they can use some of my work as elements of their school work. My line on this is as long as it’s for educational purposes, that’s fine. Hope you get a good grade. I’m not going to be involved with your design process, but after it’s done, if you want to show it to me, that’s fine.

Parodies: Dude, parody’s totally covered by fair use. You don’t even have to ask. Just make it, you know, good.

Actual, Genuine Licensing: If you want to license any part of my work — and you would have to if you have a project that entails even attempting to make money, or doing anything that is in a field where I could make money off it — then you need to contact me. I’ll point you in the direction of my business representatives. When in doubt, contact me.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comment thread.

OMW & TGB Limited Editon Cover Art; News From Russia

As many of you know, Subterranean Press will be producing a special limited edition (400 copies) of both Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, each of which will include full color illustrations by the fabulous Vincent Chong. To give you an idea of the utter coolness that Chong is bringing to the proceedings, I’m happy to present to you the covers for the limited editions:

Excellent? I think so.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering these limited editions, incidentally, here’s the link for OMW, and the link for TGB. They’re not cheap ($60 for the limited and $250 for the lettered edition), but there are bragging rights involved. Plus the Chong illustrations, which — I swear to you — are cool beyond reckoning. Incidentally, those of you who picked up the limited edition of The Sagan Diary and are also thinking of picking up the limited editions of these books will be able to have the edition number of your books match (i.e., if you have #277 of TSD, you can also get #277 of OMW and TGB) for even more collectorish goodness.

Now, news from Russia: Russia becomes the first foreign market to have a complete set of Scalzi novels, as we just sold Agent to the Stars, The Android’s Dream and The Last Colony to Eksmo, which previously bought OMW (which is out already) and TGB. OMW must be doing okay for them. Needless to say I’m pleased, especially about Agent – it’s entirely likely that the first Russian printing of Agent will be larger than the first English printing. And that’s kind of cool.

OMW & TGB Limited Editon Cover Art; News From Russia

As many of you know, Subterranean Press will be producing a special limited edition (400 copies) of both Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, each of which will include full color illustrations by the fabulous Vincent Chong. To give you an idea of the utter coolness that Chong is bringing to the proceedings, I’m happy to present to you the covers for the limited editions:

Excellent? I think so.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering these limited editions, incidentally, here’s the link for OMW, and the link for TGB. They’re not cheap ($60 for the limited and $250 for the lettered edition), but there are bragging rights involved. Plus the Chong illustrations, which — I swear to you — are cool beyond reckoning. Incidentally, those of you who picked up the limited edition of The Sagan Diary and are also thinking of picking up the limited editions of these books will be able to have the edition number of your books match (i.e., if you have #277 of TSD, you can also get #277 of OMW and TGB) for even more collectorish goodness.

Now, news from Russia: Russia becomes the first foreign market to have a complete set of Scalzi novels, as we just sold Agent to the Stars, The Android’s Dream and The Last Colony to Eksmo, which previously bought OMW (which is out already) and TGB. OMW must be doing okay for them. Needless to say I’m pleased, especially about Agent – it’s entirely likely that the first Russian printing of Agent will be larger than the first English printing. And that’s kind of cool.

Technical Notes and Solicitations

For all of you wondering how I might possibly have blown up the site yesterday, here’s what’s going on.

This blog, like most blogs, has a SQL database, in which all the data pertaining to the blog resides. The permitted size of that database is 100 MB, and currently the database is well above that size. The technical folks at 1&1, my host provider, say that it’s not like I’m going to get in trouble for this, but that the database itself has an increasingly large chance of becoming corrupted as time goes by. I’m not geek enough to know anything about MySQL, so I can’t judge the accuracy of this statement; be that as it may I’d rather not have the Whatever go kerplooey.

At the same time the Movable Type infrastructure of Whatever is becoming increasingly unstable, partly due to age and partly due to the fact I am apparently not competent enough to update the software, and every time I try I break something with the way it works and I am not savvy enough to fix it when I do. Basically the place is coming down around me, albeit in slow motion, so none of you on the outside would notice.

This presents both problems and opportunities. The opportunity lies in that this would probably be a fine time to do a significant revamp of the Whatever and either do a complete, clean installation of MT, or look at some other option that is robust enough technically to handle 25,000 visitors a day. The problem lies in dealing with previous entries (and attendant media and their URL paths and etc). The last time I did a major revamp of the site, back in 2003, my solution to this issue was simply to leave out everything I had written prior to the switchover. I don’t think that’s an optimal solution now.

Underpinning all of this is the database issue; I think it would be lovely to leave the present database as is, as an archive, and plug in some sort of blogging software to access the entries/comments therein while the “new” Whatever runs off a new database. The problem with this is that I don’t know how to do it. I tried doing it with a WordPress install I did on my scalzi.info domain (very easy to do, incidentally — so much easier than MT), but was confronted with two problems: Just making the WP install write to the current database does not make it display the information therein, and using the “import” function is not useful, in no small part because I can’t get my MT install to export a significant percentage of the blog posts using its export function. I’ve either screwed up the software in some fundamental way or it’s simply that the Whatever is too damn big (the third option is that I’m incompetent in using the software, which is, as noted earlier, a very big consideration).

So, in sum: This is what I’m thinking about going forward –

1. Looking at blogging/community software to maintain and build out Whatever/Scalzi.com and possibly some of the other domains I own (which is to say, possibly adding the option for a place for folks to post their own entries, etc) — something that can point to more than one database for additional iterations of the software would be optimal;

2. Creating a static archive of Whatever posts to this point (i.e., no additional comments or entries into that database) that is easily accessible — and if at all possible still maintaining the previous URLs, so everything isn’t broken;

3. Finding someone who is more technologically competent than me to help me build this out and install it for me. No, I wouldn’t expect this work to be done for free.

I’m taking suggestions on how to accomplish all three, so if you have ideas for software, how to build out an archive (or even if it’s necessary), or if you feel you’re just the sort of geek who can help me with this sort of project, go ahead and comment in the thread or drop me an e-mail.

(CAVEAT: Please don’t comment in this thread just to comment, or to offer “advice” that’s not actually on point, i.e., don’t be “helpy” when I actually need helpful here, because that’s just going to irritate me. There will be other comment threads to be silly or tangential. Please make this comment thread on point. Thank you.)