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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

micromuncher Technology and Evolution (192 comments)

I'm in the process of trying to self-publish some short stories now. The old way of doing this was to find a magazine or anthology related to short works - most of which are extinct today. Like Wikipedia killed Britannica and Encarta, the flood of free quality content today is killing the traditional ways of becoming renown. Trouble is there is so much (and more crud) its getting harder to find - drowning in entropy. The bigger shops like Amazon have done a good job on Kindle Direct Publishing, but the problem is it only seems to work for established authors. And its a fractured market. Even with the Kindle App, a lot of people won't use it... so as a self-publisher you've got to explore other publishing media too (like Kobo, B&N [that doesn't support Canadian authors], iBooks [that requires a Mac and multiple publish steps], and Google Play books [that is so awkward to use many people don't bother]. A publish, stream service kind of makes sense. Writers are burned by royalties anyway. (
Amazon - 30% for under $1. Kobo is 45%. And who would pay $1 for a short story when they can buy a novel for a $1? Or even get something free. The price is becoming less meaningful. Amazon will still likely push work through the service that is promoted - leaving out self publishers.

Shameless plug: I'm blogging about my experiences trying these things here (

about 2 months ago

Scientists Create Mice From 2 Fathers

micromuncher Let me understand... (435 comments)

So, eventually two dudes can produce offspring, but I'm not allowed to clone myself? WTH

more than 3 years ago

Tattoos For the Math and Science Geek?

micromuncher Re:Be unique... (1186 comments)

Kind of like those kids at school that show up with the "I'm Unique" T-Shirt. Many artists use a template.

However, F=ma would be cool on the forearm. (And a=F/m or a=dv/dt on a ladies belly.)

more than 4 years ago

I suspect my current job will end when ...

micromuncher when it is outsourced? (409 comments)

Really, don't quit before we lay you off.

more than 4 years ago

Synthetic Genome Drives Bacterial Cell

micromuncher Bacteria evolve faster... (174 comments)

Students of genetics know that organisms with short life spans and simpler structures evolve much quicker that complex organisms.

A while back I had an idea to modify saccharomyces cerevisiae to include code for generating ligninase, xylanase, and cellulase. This would allow me to brew alcohol from wood etc. Presently the enzymes are harvested from aspergillus niger. Production and recovery are expensive.

So in comes a brewing bacteria that can "liquify wood." Wait. What if this bacteria were released into the environment in an uncontrolled fasion? What if it mutates? Wouldn't the result be catastrophic?

more than 4 years ago

15 Years of Microsoft Bob

micromuncher evil bob (191 comments)

Bob, clippy, and any other gadget that imposes its will upon you by default is a bad idea. People hate being told what to do, especially when something grabs UI focus from you and makes a non-modal process a modal one. Rule No. 1 of UI design is let the user focus on the task. Distracting the user... what were they thinking? I have years of pent up Clippy hatred because my Office technology is stuck at 97 and 2000 (by choice.) First thing I always get to do is try and recall how to turn them off. BOB IS ABOMINATION! Please let it die. Take WGA next.

more than 4 years ago

The Hidden Treasures of Sysinternals

micromuncher disk2vhd (356 comments)

This was a god send to me, after VMWare Converter could not/would not convert a machine of mine, even after registry and driver cleaning, it just failed near the end without a meaningful error message in the log.

I used disk2vhd, booted up the image in VirtualBox, and bingo - working image.

more than 4 years ago

How Do You Accurately Estimate Programming Time?

micromuncher Re:Selling horse that doesn't look too good (483 comments)

I'm very happy to hear it. Once upon a time I worked for a company that kept metrics on all its projects, and we (developers) used these metrics to validate our time estimates. We didn't measure current projects in % done; we measured by function point achieved. Sounds similar to what you mention. It was one of the most stress free times in my life, as they also had effective change management. These things are counter to the manifesto.

more than 4 years ago

How Do You Accurately Estimate Programming Time?

micromuncher Selling horse that doesn't look too good (483 comments)

Some would recognize this as farmer speak for selling a blind horse, and after RTFM, where refactoring and work and revising guesses, the article called "Unskilled and Unaware" comes to mind. This article's basic premise is that people who are clueless tend to overestimate their ability.

In the old days, and with most engineering disciplines, costing is a quantified, factored skill. It is not an art. People with a great deal of experience, or whom have access to metrics, can cost building billion dollar chemical plants with reasonable error rates. It all comes down to experience, or metrics in another form.

First, you record how long it takes you to do something, and how complex it was, and how much risk there was. This knowledge can be used and applied to even unrelated projects. The biggest excuse I hear in software development is that we can't cost this because we haven't done it before. Bullshit. Remember design patterns? Someone has done it before. And it doesn't take much to figure out that something you are doing is either highly complex (and arguably requiring decomposition), or highly risky, and then cost it appropriately.

Then for those high risk items, apply a strategy like rapid prototyping, or spiral software (risk based) development practices.

Bullshit to the quality vs functionality argument too. The triangle of cost vs quality vs time or function does not take into account any of the elements for succesful project delivery, like experienced management, experienced leads, a positive working environment (read no asshole driven development), and people that actually think management is mo betta than leadership.

Rant off.

more than 4 years ago

Bach Launches Updated MP3 Format

micromuncher who cares (279 comments)

Really, who cares. mp3 is pervasive. Companies have been bslapped for not supporting plain ol' mp3s. (Sony AAC only devices... die quick deaths.)

more than 4 years ago

Writing For Video Game Genres

micromuncher The parable of the monkies... (85 comments)

We knew they'd bang out this book sooner or later, and look, they even got to do the cover!

more than 3 years ago

Reporting To Executives

micromuncher backward-a55 (301 comments)

Your executive (or usually the administrative secretaries) should communicate to you what they want. If they are not giving you an indication of the metrics they want, and they're leaving it to you, then you have the danger of boring them with useless and irrelevant information. Not repeating the 30k feet, brief, don't use IT speak comments; you likely want to engage someone close to them to figure out what metrics you gather, or can gather, and which are actually meaningful from the BI view. Oddly, information by itself is useless. Let me explain... I work for big oil/gas company (doing corporate reporting). One thing I provide is spill reports. They use this to scorecard divisions (for bonuses). But the information itself isn't very useful, because it doesn't say what products are spilled (specifically sometimes huge numbers come out re fresh water spills, and these are reportable to govt., but not as dangerous as sour gas...). The divisional guys get really annoyed because they're compared to previous years (so its spilled volume over time), and they really want me to speciate by operation or commodity, but I can't because the executive committee in charge doesn't care. They want ONE line item for an overall metric in one area of the business. So to reiterate, its really important to talk with them or someone close to them to figure out what is useful and what the "destination" is. Process improvement? Health check? Benefits/bonuses? Lots of categories to chose from.

more than 4 years ago

How To Make Science Popular Again?

micromuncher StarTrekify my Life (899 comments)

I would like to have...
1) a cell phone that looks like a TOS communicator (one vaporphone was the Sona Mobile themed phone)
2) a micro-lab that looks like a TOS tricorder (hell, I'd be happy with GPS, temperature, and humidity sensors in a stylish box)
3) a laser pointer that looks like a TOS phaser (that would absolutely get attention in meetings)

Cool and useful science toys.

about 5 years ago

Sony To Launch 3D TVs By Late 2010

micromuncher Re:Program support? (249 comments)

You don't have to do custom programming; you can use a modification of edge detection to generate a texture map; effectively same color at different luminosity would drive the topology mapping.

about 5 years ago

Coders At Work

micromuncher Re:Microserfs (207 comments)

Nah, Death March by Yourdon. I re-read it frequently and it never loses its luster.

about 5 years ago

World's First Formally-Proven OS Kernel

micromuncher Formal proof? (517 comments)

Wow. How can you prove something like this... I know mathematical induction and various finite automata tests were used in my old school days to prove software worked... but something as complicated as this.

In any event, an inductive hypothesis in software is tripe. Unless you can formally describe all states, you usually have an unbounded problem, and people test (and prove) positive case. There are just way too many states.

Just like Bjarne said Proof by analogy is fraud... and induction is akin to analogy.

more than 5 years ago

Are Code Reviews Worth It?

micromuncher right and wrong ways (345 comments)

As with any software process, there are right and wrong things to do. First, the formal code review where invitees don't review the code in advance are pointless. Usually there is so much to go over, even if these are scheduled frequently, that anything more than surface is missed.

And then when you have a developer do a package and walk through, there are people not to invite. I've been in reviews where all but one of the reviewees took it seriously, and the one that did not, effectively wanted to review everything in the meeting because they didn't study the prep. Only invite reviewers that take it seriously.

A lot of unorganized code reviews degenerate into style comments and surface stuff. This doesn't help; the most important thing is to have reviewers that bring in their own findings like an audit. You can delegate things from developer to reviewer, like one reviewer could run through a profiler (ie java findbugs), another through metrics (ie java metricsreloaded), or another with specific data structures and algorithms expertise or concurrency attention. So... each reviewer can have a role. Each reviewer is a subject matter expert.

The best ones in my opinion are where the developer runs the code through a metrics tool to identify hotspots, like complex code, or things that have complex entry/exit conditions. Things where the developer actively wants to solicit opinions. Like... "How the heck can I test this?"

Again it falls to the people though. Artifacts are really important, as are action items and follow up. Another example; one review I was in we spotted a developer using floats for guids. We explained why this was a really bad idea, but because we didn't follow up on it, and neither did the developer, I spent a week hunting down a duplicate spurrious guid conflict. The team was pretty upset with the developer for not actioning a fix, but our management believed that buy in to process was optional...

Good luck. Reviews show professional acumen, but there needs to be some discipline in the prep, review, and follow up.

more than 5 years ago

Computers Key To Air France Crash

micromuncher Never trust a computer... (911 comments)

I've known too many software developers; even with redundant systems written to the same requirements, I'd never trust the requirements were complete, and I'd never trust that the testing covered "the negative case." Many requirements are missed, and most test cases are to a postive case (so you only have a subset of known inputs and outputs for simple, selected execution paths.)

Also, a plane that is breaking up in the air will send in interesting results via automated systems... totally off topic.

more than 5 years ago

Hulu May Begin Charging For Video Content

micromuncher Re:Can't use it... (313 comments)

I appreciate your concern for me, and you both have given me hope because as opposed to pointless name calling, the discussion ended amicably! Good job!

Unfortunately I won't use a proxy; not that I'm not technically inclined; but because I have a little voice in the back of my head saying its not ethical. If hulu, adult swim, or any other content provider doesn't want me to have content... fine. I won't support them.

I learned about Hulu because on a Canadian news network they touted how great it was. When I checked it out, I discovered that Canadians couldn't use it... Only reason my wife and I checked it out was to try see the contraversial Palin/Clinton SNL clip we heard about. I think I can live without seeing it.

more than 5 years ago

Hulu May Begin Charging For Video Content

micromuncher Can't use it... (313 comments)

Many of us outside the US can't use Hulu anyway; so it doesn't matter ;-)

more than 5 years ago



Memoires of a Self-Loathing IT Professional

micromuncher micromuncher writes  |  about 2 months ago

micromuncher (171881) writes "Hello editors; I would like to publish my real life inspired memoires of working in tech for 25 years. Really, I am very curious to see if the "short story" is truly dead and see if a nobody author like myself can use self publishing media to tell the story. I plan to write about 20 short, episodic stories (about 6-10 pages each) about the insanity I've experienced in IT. I can send the first two if you like for review. I also am starting a blog about the experience; how I've attempted to publish on Amazon/Kindle direct publishing, Apple iBooks, and KOBO. How I am marketing with $0. And the success (most likely epic fail) of it all.

Thanks for your time.

bswieser at gmail dot com"

Link to Original Source

Circuit City Files for Chapter 11

micromuncher micromuncher writes  |  more than 5 years ago

micromuncher (171881) writes "Circuit City is closing 155 stores and hoping that Chapter 11 will keep in bouyant enough to survive through the holiday season. Don't expect deep discounts — but do ponder that bankrupcy does destroy wealth and damage suppliers. The killer line from the article suggests that firing experienced sales staff and replacing them with newbies was a strategic blunder... gee, ya think?"
Link to Original Source

What do you do when a botnet spams you to death?

micromuncher micromuncher writes  |  more than 7 years ago

micromuncher writes "A month ago I was a happy IT geek. I host my own web site and email server (and have been for over 10 years), and I had been running MDaemon (v7) successfully for four years. A low percentage of spam reached my desktop, though admittedly its gone from a few a day a couple years ago to about twenty now, but then something bad happened. I had measures in place to rudely disconnect spammers; fail on no RDNS, fail on no MX records, and use several spam filters to weed out spam. But the trouble came, from what I can tell, when a non-existant email account got into a botnet — and from what I can tell — its huge. Even though my connections were throttled, I received so many requests, and something odd about the requests, it crashed my mail server. So I flipped on tarpitting and the like, and set my timeouts short, and throttle tight... and I still got crushed. All of the originating servers were passing through the spam filters. Most of them were passing through RBLs. I tried to find information on current spam outbreaks; and I didn't find much useful. I contacted my mail server vendor, and they suggested I fork out the money for an upgrade (that I did), that had the feature of a "bait account". But I'm still getting overloaded by spam (though I am not crashing as far as I can tell.) So my questions to the world; how the heck do you monitor spam outbreaks? What are the most effective measures for dealing with botnets (where all the senders seem legit)? And what the heck can you do to stick it to the foul scum who either advertise through this fraud, or facilitate it?"


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