Daily Archives: December 22, 2008

Things I Pay For Online

And no, I’m not detailing my online porn addictions to you. What I mean is, what premium services I pay for online. Since so much is available online for free, if one is paying for something online, it’s generally because it offers some genuine value and is worth the price. These are some of the things that are worth money to me.

1. Rhapsody: I’ve been paying for Rhapsody for I think five years now, first because it was the simplest legal way to listen to music online (which also compensated the artists, something that was and is important for me), and these days because I’m familiar with it and find it really easy to use and to find music on. Since the time I subscribed and now, lots of legitimate free music services have popped up (you’ll note I frequently embed imeem streaming), but most of those services are still hit-and-miss in terms of availability of music, and most of them are still kind of a pain in the ass to navigate. For making it dead easy for me to find the music I want when I want it, Rhapsody keeps earning my $15 a month.

2. Encyclopedia Britannica: Because none of the editors I work with consider Wikipedia reliable in the slightest. I personally use Wikipedia tons for casual research, but I cross check it with EB (and original sources) when I do actual writing. Wikipedia partisans, this is your cue to link to that study that suggests Britannica is no more accurate than Wikipedia on several fields, but you know what? Unlike Wikipedia, if I cite Britannica and it turns out to be wrong, I don’t get blamed for sloppy research. Britannica’s reputation is worth the subscription cost. This is actually my oldest current online subscription; I think I’ve had it for almost ten years now.

3. Flickr Pro: Because it’s easier to upload and store pictures there than it is to my own ftp space. Don’t worry, I have all the originals stashed on an archive drive here at home.

4. LiveJournal: Because I like the ability to comment on LJ, basically. This is probably the account for which I get the least exchange value for, but it’s $25 a year, and, eh, I can spend that. Although now I understand they’re putting ads on LJs, and since I’m a paid member I don’t see those. Go me.

5. GameTap: Because $10/month (or whatever it is I’m paying) is a really really cheap way to keep Athena entertained with hundreds of video games that I don’t have to buy. Also, to be honest, GameTap serializing the recent Sam& Max games alone made it worth the money I sink into it on a monthly basis. You know what one of her favorite games on GameTap is? Pong. Cracks me up, it does.

6. Wall Street Journal: Because I read it enough to justify the cost. I think it’ll amuse some folks that I’m fairly left and still subscribe to WSJ, but you know, I just skip the editorials and it’s fine.

7. AOL: I know, I know. Call it an affectation. Just in case the broadband apocalypse comes, I want to be able to have a dial-in backup. Also, although I haven’t worked for AOL in almost a year, there’s always a chance they’ll still want to use me as a contractor in the future, and it’s easier to hang on to the account just in case they do. Also, you know. They’ve paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to me over the years. I can spot them $72 a year, or whatever.

8. Skype: Because when I go overseas, it’s cheaper than roaming charges. Also, it’s a pay-as-you-go sort of thing; I deposited 10 euros worth of money into my Skype account in 2005 and I still haven’t worked all the way through it (I don’t go overseas all that much).

9. Club Penguin: Because it amuses the child, so why not.

10. Scalzi.com: Of course. Devotees will know that I recently switched hosting of Whatever to WordPress.com, which I’ve been very happy with, but everything else about the site still resides on 1and1.com, who’s been my host provider for four years now. This is a good arrangement, since WordPress.com is able to handle the load of my blog visitors, while 1and1.com is good with handling my e-mail and storing my files and various domains, and for all I do with those, $20 a month isn’t a bad rate.

And I think that’s it at the moment. The great news for me is that almost all of the above is tax deductible one way or another. Ah, the life of a freelance writer.

Over the Hillside

I’ll let you in on a little secret, which is that one of the reasons I was happy that the 2005 Worldcon was in Glasgow was that I always wanted to visit the town that The Blue Nile was from, and which inspired the music off of Hats, which is one of my all time favorite albums, and coming up on its 20th anniversary in 2009. Mind you, it’s not like I accidentally ran across Paul Buchanan while I was there. But there was always the possibility, at which point I could have said “well done, you, sir,” and then watched as he (I expect) muttered embarrassed thanks and then scuttled away.

The point is, I wanted to be in the city in my head that I imagined the music on the album came out of, and while that city doesn’t actually exist, Glasgow was probably as close as I was going to get to it. It was a good trip, and this is a great album.

Incidentally, clicking on the album cover above takes you to the Amazon page where you can download the mp3 version of the album. At just $6.93 (cheap!), it’s worth it.

Zoe’s Tale Review on Slashdot

Oh, excellent. Just in time for the last-minute “I’m a geek and haven’t gone shopping for the holidays yet, what should I get?” crowd, which, you may be assured, I am certainly a part of.

And the review is nice, too:

This is a strong entry in a great series that I believe is destined to be considered a classic. Scalzi’s entry into the field is a welcome treatment of classic themes with a fresh new viewpoint that is smart and entertaining.

Groovy.

If you go over to check out the review, I’d note to you that the comment thread is somewhat spoilery about the series in general.