“Holiday Specials” is on The Move

If you’ll recall the previous entry, I mentioned that I had sold the “Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials” article a couple of places. One of them is to National Lampoon — and here’s where you can find the piece now. Even if you’ve read it before, be a mensch and click through, won’t you? They paid me a silly sum for it, and I want to encourage them to continue to do so from time to time.

While you are there you might also consider checking out their 2004 Safe Toy Shopping Guide, which is awfully damn funny as well.


Good Day, and an Ethical Question

So, today was a not bad day: I sold the “Ten Least Successful Christmas Specials” piece — twice! — and then, just before I went to pick up Athena, the Fed Ex guy showed up with my author copy of Old Man’s War, which you can see Krissy grooving to in the picture above (she got to the part with the sex, I’d guess). As I’ve noted elsewhere, the fact that one of these is in my possession means that very soon other copies will be in the possession of Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders, Powell’s and your small independent local bookstore which you really ought to support, damn you.

On the flip side, I’m still going bald. So altogether, the day is a wash, I suppose.

Incidentally, help me with an ethical question. Two people who have read Old Man’s War have already gone and left reader reviews on Amazon, which I appreciate greatly (no less so because they are positive reviews). I’d like to get a few more in there in advance of the actual release of the book, and so have given some thought to handing over a small number of electronic copies of the book to readers on the condition that if they like the book, they post a review of it on Amazon (and perhaps If they don’t like the book, I wouldn’t tell them to go out of their way to post a review, but if they wanted to, then that would be part of the risk I’d take. I wouldn’t want people to post positive reviews if they didn’t like the book — I’d want the reviews to be actually useful to people thinking of picking up the book.

The question: Is it ethical to make a “books for reviews” deal like this — even if I note that they should only post a positive review if they actually like the book? Clearly, doling out advance copies is what publishers do all the time to paid reviewers and established magazines/newspapers/Web sites. Would this be just another iteration of that? Or does the equation change because the people getting the books aren’t “pro”? Note additionally that the “sample” of readers would be from my own personal pool of readers (as I’d be making the offer on the Whatever), so there is likely to be at least some inclination in my favor.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I’d like to hear some of yours. I haven’t made a decision to do this yet; at the moment it’s just a thought. I’m actually inclining slightly against doing it, but as I said, I’m looking for some thoughtful opinion from all y’all about it.


It’s Like Living in the Future

If you ever bother to go to my AOL blog By The Way, then you’ll know that yesterday I gacked up a multi-monitor sort of set-up for here at home, in which my laptop is running two monitors: the laptop monitor and the monitor that came with the new computer I bought as a media server/Athena’s computer (her previous computer’s motherboard zapped itself into oblivion, making Athena very sad), and the they’re both connected to my primary computer by way of a wireless LAN.

However, as I was congratulating myself for my ingenuity, one of the Whatever readers offered another suggestion — a program called MaxiVista, which creates a virtual video card you can use to use your laptop as a second monitor for your desktop computer. I checked it out and after about 30 minutes, I went ahead and bought the software, and now I’m getting what I really wanted, which is a second screen for my desktop computer.

But wait, here’s where it gets really cool (from the dork point of view). MaxiVista does not (as far as I can tell) have the capability to rope in the the third monitor I have (which I was using as the second monitor for the laptop) but while the laptop is running the second screen for the desktop, the third monitor I have is still usable as a monitor for the laptop. So I still have full laptop functionality even when the laptop’s screen is slaved to the desktop. And since you can minimize the desktop second screen on the laptop (thus calling up the laptop’s primary screen), functionally speaking, I get the use of two screens per computer, using a mere three screens. Now I feel like a friggin’ geeeenius.

Aside from being just geek cool, this is very useful for me because at any one time I usually have about 40,000 windows open on my computer. Anything that gives me more real estate to do everything I have to do is okay by me. The only real problem is that sometimes I forget which keyboard I’m supposed to be using for what screen, thus leading to jerky comical movements as I correct mid-stream and lunge for the other keyboard.

Incidentally, this is the point where I throw any pretense of not being a full-on nerd right out the window. All the signs were there, of course: The geek education, the various jobs in the high-tech industry, the writing of science fiction and what have you. But since I can’t actually, you know, code or do math, I never gave myself over to the full geek label. But I think wiring up a threeway monitor set-up qualifies, both as a minimum technical requirement and also for thinking it’s so damn cool. I don’t claim to be a secret master of nerd-dom or anything like that; I know some of them, and I know I don’t rate. Even so, this has got to count for something. Can I be in the geek club now? Please?

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