Tag Archives: technology

New profile picture

Martyn K Jones new profile After so long hiding behind work cap and shades on my profile picture, I’ve elected to change my profile avatar for something more realistic.

This picture was taken with Angies new iPad while she was getting fixed up with new contact lenses this afternoon. Cameras and sound on those things are surprisingly good. If I didn’t have other pressures on my finances, I’d buy one like a shot. With a wireless keyboard of course, but the screens are that good there’s little of the eyestrain associated with less advanced kinds of LCD monitors. Don’t even get me started on the various ‘aps’. Saw one yesterday which gave live weather data and sea states. Stunning quality. Awesome. And I don’t use that term lightly.

Now Angie’s told me to step away from the keyboard and take some time out. Our subscription issue of Psychology Today just arrived and I need to do a little reading up on addictive personality types for ‘A falling of Angels’.

So many profiles, so little time

Being a one man band has its downside. In short, self promotion. In between day job, looking for better job, writing, looking for new places to live, navigation and R/T courses, cooking and trying to do some research, I have to fit in updating all the profiles I’ve begun. There’s Authors Den (Hi guys), Goodreads (Profile needs completing) to mention but two of my multiple memberships. Never mind LinkedIn, and I can’t remember the last time I logged on to FaceBook properly.

Yesterday I spent three and a half working hours alone on my Authors Den profile (Including blog post) before four hours travelling to and talking to boat brokers and walking around various marinas looking at everything from an oversized dinghy to a minor gin palace as a live aboard, although the cost of satellite Internet is rather off-putting. Putting in over two hours editing the rough draft of ‘A Falling of Angels’ while cooking ribs to have cold for supper at work then working the graveyard shift at day job. Today I hope to get a few more hours at the keyboard before disappearing from just after four until after midnight.

That makes yesterdays total; five hours sleep; three and a half hours on Authors Den; just under nine hours including commute to and from day (more like night) job for paid work; an hour and three quarters in the kitchen; two hours writing; three and a half hours looking at boats; about an hour talking about boats and travel with Angie; half an hour reading one of my favourite books; an hour answering email, and I think I actually managed what our cousins down south call a couple of ‘comfort breaks’ during the day. I also managed a few minutes studying for an exam, but I’m not sure where I managed to fit that in. The bookmark has moved forward a chapter, so I must have done. What is that big expensive screen thing in the living room we never switch on?

Angie has noticed how tired I look, so I’m driving her down to Sidney and Victoria on Friday to visit yet another bunch of Marinas. More boats. More houses. More research. More job hunting.

I’d really like to be more active on these profiles, upping my visibility as an Independent; but then there wouldn’t be time for day job, looking for better job, writing, looking for new places to live, navigation and R/T courses, cooking, making time for my wife and trying to do some research.

Update: I forgot my dog. He needs me too. Walkies, food, time to sit at his master’s feet. There’s another hour a day.

We are now officially cool….?

My wife now has a 4th Gen 32Gb iPad (With cellular data package) for work. iPads are supposed to be ‘cool’, therefore so are we, I think. Possibly. Maybe. Is it possible to be ‘cool’ when you’re over 55? I don’t know.

A lot of Angie’s high school level learners have Mac and iPads, and throw out documents in Mac format. They use Apple’s video messaging as opposed to Skype. Therefore she needs this piece of kit to work and communicate with them more effectively.

Playing with her new iPad on the deck via the house wi-fi while drinking a very nice Belgian beer, chilling and watching some serious boats go by, it is interesting to see, close up, how an iPad works. Very intuitive, polished, and slick. I can see why some folk get fanatical about them.

Me, I’m sticking with my old Acer Windows 7 laptop until it breaks, or gets so slow it’s not worth booting. Then I might, if budget allows, look at a MacBook as a replacement. I’ve always looked at it this way, it’s no use buying a sports car (iPad) when what you really need is a van (PC). Although the iPad 10 hour battery life is very appealing. Like with our Kobo eReader, battery life is crucial when you’re far from home and travelling with no available charging ports.

Anyway. Thanks to Marc, Victor, Scotty, and the guys in the ‘engine room’ at Nanaimo Future Shop for great, dare I say ‘awesome’ service and letting us make up our own minds. Having the Apple guy in store is a seriously good piece of service end marketing on Apples part. Hope we didn’t give the boys too much of a hard time. We’ll be back.

How to deal with Internet Trolls

Picked up this link from LinkedIn this morning. Apparently there are people with nothing better to do than post defamatory views on the works of others. Known as ‘trolls’. Not the dark Scandinavian monsters of legend, hiding under bridges to waylay the unwary, nor cute hairy little dolls sold as souvenirs. No. These trolls are most often sad, twisted, and rather lonely individuals with a keyboard and no real friends ‘trolling’ as in fishing terms, web sites and forums for attention. Most likely they are powerless people on an ego trip.

The best way to deal with these people is not to engage. ‘Do not feed the trolls’ being the cardinal unwritten rule of most comment threads. Because that is what they want. ‘Feeding’ / engagement, attention. To snag your ID from your e-mail address reply so as to impersonate you. A better idea is to let them batter their worthless souls senseless by simply removing their abusive / insulting posts from your web site comment threads without mention. In short, send them to electronic oblivion. Deny them the vindication of existence. Damn their sayings with faint praise if need be, but preferably do not even acknowledge their existence, or the existence of their insults, ever. If necessary ‘down arrow’ their reviews or mark their ‘review’ as ‘unhelpful’. Trust me, there are all sorts of ways to deal with these stalkers rather than the hi-tech. Psychology will always be your friend.

For the technically minded there are other, but more intensive, answers. Go on a ‘troll hunt’ if you must, but only if there is no other recourse. I posted this advisory comment as a rough guide on how to proceed over at ‘TheBookChick’

May I offer a little advice. The Internet is not anonymous. It is relatively easy to track these abusive posters down via their IP address if you know how. Even if they do the normally cowardly troll trick of hiding behind what are called ‘Anonymous proxies’. There is always a trail of electronic breadcrumbs.

With their home IP address you can track the point of origin of the abusive poster. Using ‘Whois’ (Type into search bar and use one of the many free services), Find out their service provider / employer and lay formal complaint that their user / employee (Cite time of posting and IP address) is in breach of their terms of service for posting abusive and insulting material. Ask a lawyer if you need to go all formal on your antagonist. If that fails, with the evidence at your back, simply threaten to publicly post that such and such a service provider / organisation encourages abusive posting.

Remember, trolls are creatures of darkness, they hate the light.

Which is rather provocative, as there are as many ways to block as there are to discover, and an IP address is not a phone number, permanently linked to one subscriber. The Media Access Control number, if you can find it, is a unique identifier for each individual web accessing device. Oddly enough, this can be tracked relatively easily if your abuser is not ultra careful with their wireless device using public Wi-Fi. A simple web search will throw up all sorts of tricks and tools for this very purpose.

In short, everything anyone does on line can be recorded and tracked. Find the IP address, which is the number divided into two or three letter groups by full stops (It will be in the header information of their post), and go to somewhere like IP Tracker online. For advice on how to track down the anonymous abusers to their source from a cops standpoint, may I recommend this article as a good starting point. This article is also useful, with several handy pointers on where to look. Yes it means extra work, but if someone is hurting you, what recourse have you got? While not infallible, there are resources like ‘Real IP’ and ‘Visualware’ or ‘Visualroute’. Although for the non-technically minded, the above will be little real help.

Personally I prefer the ‘do not engage’ option with abusive attention seekers. My attitude towards them can be amply illustrated in this little known quote from Douglas Adam’s character Zaphod Beeblebrox; “Hey, I’ll just turn my charisma down a notch, they’ll soon get bored.” Think of it this way; if you weren’t heroic, they wouldn’t be trying to pull you down.

Is online activity declining?

This is purely anecdotal I know, but since the Snowden / NSA scandal broke, with all the revelations about surveillance, I’ve noticed a significant decline in online activity. Not this site, because it’s always been pretty low activity. Really, what is less interesting than a self publishing writer in a niche market talking about writing and self publishing in a niche market? On various forums I read, once active posters seem to have dropped off the web, and I’m wondering if this is symptomatic of an overall decline which probably impacts on online sales. I mean for everyone.

I know that Internet use ebbs and flows like the tide, but one time enthusiastic users seem to be less enthusiastic than usual right now. This is nothing I can pin down, and seeing as it’s a developing situation there are few real resources. Alexa.com shows that Google search use basically fell off a cliff in early June after six months of increase. Facebook is 11% down in search activity. Yahoo also suffered a sharp decline in June. Bing a small increase. This could of course be due to the holidays, as the majority of Internet use is driven by a younger audience, and will no doubt be back up in September when school restarts. On the other hand I find myself concerned that we’re seeing the start of an ‘Internet recession’. An overall decline in Internet use as people drop ‘off grid’ in an attempt to avoid everything they say and do being logged and recorded.

Like I say, there are few reliable sources of immediate information, but I liken it to watching a change in the clouds a day before a storm rolls in. The harbingers are there. Once hyperactive users have gone silent. Companies are talking about taking their online business ‘offshore’ and even the antivirus company I use is doing deals on VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections. I’m halfway inclined to configure my router to anonymise web access like in this tutorial, but it’s such a pain to reconfig if something untoward happens at the other end (Loss of proxy, things like that).

Aug 2013 012For those of us who have bet the farm on a ‘web only’ eBook strategy, this apparent decline does not bode well.

Apropos of nothing; during a rainstorm over Dodd Narrows yesterday evening around 7:30pm, I was privileged to witness exactly what is at the end of the rainbow. On a full arc double bow.

Original image. No photoshop. This is what actually lies at the end of the rainbow.

A thought from the idea factory in my head

I was reviewing ‘Darkness’ this morning, and began re-editing a sequence where five of my Asteroid miner characters are getting ready for a new expedition. It got me thinking, what will be the next development in caller ID on cell phones? With software that is capable of reading emotions under development, and I’m sure some form of holographic touch screen in someone else’s ideas file, I thought to myself, what would such an ap look like?

In ‘Darkness’ an E-Avatar is a 3D animated iCell figure that reacts to the callers emotions. When in no-vid mode, the cell phones internal software generates a little figure that mimes, dances and reflects nuances from the callers voice patterns. Animated Gif are already available for cell phones as caller ID avatars, so how long before a more reactive version becomes available? Not just reading micro expressions, but also tonal nuances in a callers voice. Maybe firstly as a 2D version, but as screen technology improves, 3D.

Just a thought. The pace technology is moving, I’m sure I’m not the first to consider the idea. Wonder if the idea isn’t original, but simply a derivation of something I’ve seen before on TV or in a movie?

Minor change to blog title

Blithely carrying on in my usual ‘full-speed-ahead-and-damn-the-torpedoes’ way, I hadn’t really noticed how many Martyn Jones’ there are out there. From Psychologists and Gynocologists to artists and politicians. So in order to distinguish myself from them and make it easier for people who want to actually find my specific profile, I’m changing my ID title from a simple vanilla ‘Martyn Jones’ to ‘Martyn K Jones’. WordPress was easy, but Facebook, as usual, is proving more user fiendish, demanding verification via cell phone text. This for me is problematic. I live in an area with poor cell phone reception, and two requests for a verification code from Facebook this morning have so far met with a blank wall. My phone is registering an average of 30-50% signal strength. Still no text.

Technology and social media. You gotta love ’em.

Darkness Between the Stars – new excerpt page

Have decided to put the first couple of thousand words of ‘Darkness’ on an excerpts page. Just to give a flavour of the style and tone. New story thread to add to the mix, with six particular characters.

New page is under the ‘Stars Trilogy’ tab on ‘Darkness between the Stars – Excerpts‘ tab.

At present, inbetween shifts and all the other domestic stuff, I’m flipping between stories, trying not to get them all mixed up. Oh yes, and I’m also growing my beard back.

Facebook back up and running

After a delve through the locked files on my laptop, I came up with the coded answer to my Facebook security question. Thank goodness for that. Now I can access my Facebook page again. No doubt I’ll have to repeat the performance when we go over to Ireland on the 20th, and again on our way to Amsterdam on the 24th and 25th. Thence on my way back to Vancouver and home. Yet now I’ve gotten the answer I need, that shouldn’t prove a problem. Have had to decline one invitation in London, as I’ll be in the wrong country. Sorry chaps.

Lots of discussions within the family about the future, in more ways than one. There are plots and counter plots in the offing which will be great if they all work out. Haven’t been able to get back together with old friends because they probably don’t check their Facebook messages that often. Pity, but there you go. This is real life, and I’ll have to put up with it until something better comes along.

‘Sky’ and ‘Falling’ have been uploaded through Kobo’s ‘Writinglife’ programme to get them out to a wider market. No negative bounceback from iBookstore and Barnes & Noble, so I think I’m all good there. I thought writing and proofing the books on its own was pretty hard work, but the learning curve on the distribution and marketing side is pretty steep too. That aside, I feel a lot more comfortable with what I now have out in the marketplace.

A big thank you to Kobo

I’d just like to say a big thank you to the support guys at Kobo.  For their sheer dogged professionalism when dealing with a troublesome nobody.  I.E. Me.  It may have taken a few days but they came up with the goods, and cynical old me is seriously impressed.

The royalty payments issue has a solution, which will be applied in the morning, UK time.  The uploaded Kobo eBook editions will follow, and other distribution processes allowing, will be available shortly. For the first time in what seems an age I’m feeling guardedly optimistic.

At present I’m having a suspiciously nice time.  Have just come back from a quintessentially British event called ‘The Pudding club‘ at the Three Ways Hotel, Mickleton, Gloucestershire, England.  Kind of a dessert lovers medieval banquet without the food throwing, off key singing, mock jousting or cosplay. Their Bread and Butter pudding is a smooth revelation to the taste buds, surpassed only by the flavour firework display on the tongue called Lemon & Lime Charlotte. Laura and Jo conjured a booking for this very popular weekly event, seemingly from nowhere, bless both sets of their tiny cotton socks, and a good time was had by all. We even bought the cookbook. Recommended for the more mature foodie.

Packing and packaging

Packing and paperwork become a priority from today. We leave on Sunday for the UK, and all the paperwork is being double checked and then checked again. Arranging feeding exercise and watering of dog. Treats and presents for Jo and Laura. Flight, hotel and car hire bookings obsessively pored over. Scanning the small print in travel insurance. Checking cash supplies. Credit cards brought out of cold storage. The usual travel minutiae.

One thing I’m trying to get up and running before we go is some editions of ‘Sky’, ‘Falling’, and ‘Head of the Beast’ in the Kobo marketplace. From what I’ve read so far, since I exclusively hold the copy and publishing rights, I can utilise existing ISBN’s and simply have Kobo as a separate distribution platform for eBooks. My only issue at present is setting up the royalty payments. Despite repeated checks with my bank and a dozen failed attempts with Kobo, their site won’t register my account to set up the electronic funds transfer or direct payment. No doubt I’m missing a trick. Somewhere along the line. Possibly. I need to read the FAQ’s no doubt. Again. Perhaps it’s too early in the morning. Yet there’s this driven streak in me that won’t let go. I’ve started, so I’m going to damn well finish. Get it out of the way so I can enjoy time with family and friends without having to worry about it. Although I’m sure there will be something else to obsess about.

I haven’t even started packing.

Up and running with the first two volumes

Right. Distribution issues notwithstanding, both ‘Sky‘ and ‘Falling‘ are now public domain at the princely sum of CAD$3.99 each. Edited, re-edited and proofed until my eyeballs feel like they’re going to seize up.

That’s it. No more. Time to move on and finish the series before going back to work on Cerberus. Will be monitoring for distribution issues while I’m in the UK and Ireland. Now it’s time for the day job.

Blink part 1; an experiment in story telling.

Nice sunny day. Have decided to play a little this morning with this thought experiment. I may graft it into something bigger, but while Landlord is jarring my concentration with heavy duty brushcutter in overlush garden, and cold callers (Is anyone dumb enough to buy stuff from a telemarketing cold caller?) derail my mainline trains of thought. Here it is in first draft format.


Sometime in the not so distant future. In a midnight data centre far, far away, something routinely trivial happens. A file, a data stub is corrupted during routine upgrade and transfer. The record attached is missing one key field. A simple pug ugly data entry fault. Missed keystroke. Typo. A box not ticked correctly. Record dumped as ‘corrupt’. Nothing to sweat about. One record. De nada. Everyday stuff. Fill in the forms. All be good.

Update: Corrupted backup gets dumped into cyber oblivion with whole bunch of inane Tweets, Picture and vid files, Pokes, Emails and message updates. Global impact is; Huh? Lots of inane stuff reposted. No harm, no foul, right?

Update: A small apartment, anywhere city in a brave new electronic world of Iris and retinal recognition.

Blink: Hey. Lights aren’t working. Oh, power’s out. Jeee-sus.

Blink: Kettle won’t switch on. Okay, no power. No crappy morning hot drink. Look out of window. Yay. Local cafe got power. Open and serving goodies. Treat for breakfast. Fine. Not so bad. Can see cute Barista on shift, the one with nice smile and taut package. Drool.

Blink: Clothes in closet look a bit stale, want to look good for the cute Barista. 3D print bling, and new shizzle from autocloset. Ten minutes and you’re lookin’ dangerous baby. Dress to kill. Look out world, here I come. Party starts here.

Blink: Shit! Power off. Autocloset 3D print not working. No new shizzle and stuff. Have to wear rumpled old crap from last night. Cute Barista maybe not such an attainable life goal today. Too much VPL.

Blink: Hmm. Blood sugar needed. What goodies in the Autofridge? Something sweet maybe?

Blink: Autofridge panel reads: ‘Retinal & Iris print record not recognised – Have a great day’. WTF? What’s this ‘Conserve Power’ crap?

Blink: Power standby light on phone is cool. Hey all little red lights are on standby. Wall screen, Web terminal, Mealcooker, Autofridge. Even toaster and coffee machine. Power not out. Glitch or what? Pull on rumpled clothes. Feel and look like like crap. So yesterday.

Blink: Come on, work will you? Blink. Blink. Blinkety frigging blink! Gotta call repair guys. Means three hours in a call centre queue so late for worky stuff. Sit down. Swear.

Blink: Hey. Not all lost. Call work with a brill excuse. Spend rest of day ogling cute Barista. Maybe date, get horny and grunty. Look on bright side. Miss boring meeting. Hey. Things looking up already.

Blink: Shit. Door sticking. Hate it. Junky moronic door. Open up. I wanna go get coffee an shizzle. Wassallthis ‘No known record’ crap? Kick door. Hah! Emergency override. Red button. Door opens. Ta-daahhh! Suck it, techno crap. Call tech support when get home. Call centres always jammed in morning. Genius me got all the answers. Better do worky thing first. Dull, dull-de-dull-dull. Major yawn. Get credit to fix crap techno stuff.

Blink: Bus won’t let me on. Hey, what is this? I ain’t no low-life. Got job. Got credit. I am not nobody. Homeless guy with empty coffee cup laughing at me. Big blush. Walk away. Humiliation. WTF is happening?

Blink: Walking sucks. My life is crap. Least not far.

Blink: WTF? Worky place door not working. Oh shee-it. Securi-bot software’s locked door. Hey. How come? Hey fuckwit, I work here. Let me in. Got big important meeting thing. Hey flunky ap. You get you’re worthless ass upgraded to electronic hell, pal.

Blink: Ow! The door Tazered me. People laughing. Manager from upstairs knows me. I’m on her team. Says she’ll contact security. Gotta wait at door. Aw bitchin.

Blink: Security guy with Manager in lobby. He’s shaking his head. She’s pointing. Yeah, right, flunky. I key team player. Hot shot on way to top. You better let me in or, or….

Blink: Manager at door says no go. Security glitch. Go home, full pay. Not your fault. All fixed tomorrow. Can’t let me in or security doors will tazer my ass. Everywhere. See you tomorrow.

Blink: No bus. Gotta walk. Blisters! I got pigging blisters! Hurts. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Rain. Hate that too. Junky, shitty rain. Don’t like wet.

Blink: Coffee store. Go ogle cute Barista. Yay. Mocha Latte heat drive the cold out. Brill.

Blink: Watcha mean, no credit? I got credit. I live there. That block, that apartment. See? You seen me before. I’m someone. Not nobody.

Blink: Cute Barista firm head shake. Get out bum. No Mocha Latte. Pram pushing bitch behind tells me to get lost. Walk away, head down, hot tears, cold rain.

Blink: Apartment block won’t open. WTF? I live here crissake! Lemme in! Slump. Cry. No one stops. Why won’t anyone talk to me?

Okay. That’s all for the moment. Just an hours messing around with a story thought. I foresee three possible endings. Like I say, just one of the many ideas I get to mud wrestle with. May be finished for release in volume of short stories and novellas some time later this year. May grind to a halt to live forever as one of my many story fragments. Who knows. Blink: and it might just happen. Or not.

Ready to release the latest versions

Of late I’ve been in obsessive compulsive mode; ironing out errors, formatting and editing, proofing and polishing my prose. Apart from being bloody hard work, it has also been exhausting to the point where my brain doesn’t know where my body is going. I can function; but like with the sleep deprivation I suffered last year, the signs of strain are unmistakeable.

Notwithstanding the above, what I call ‘Sky’ the first of the Stars Trilogy is now re released as an eBook. Checked, edited, proofed, re edited, spell checked and reformatted. The basic story structure remains the same, but all those irritating clunky sentences have been hammered into something a little more elegant. A much better product. First reports back from my test readers are encouraging. It’s been submitted to the iBookstore and Barnes & Noble Databases. A Kobo version will follow in a week or two when I’m rested. Not sure about Amazon. I’ll wait a while and see how the distribution works out.

Price is CAD$4.99. UK GBP 3.80. That’s fair. Considering Traditional publishers are charging Ten or more bucks per eBook, I think it’s bloody good value for all the work I’ve put in. Links will go into the ‘published works’ page by tonight, Pacific Standard time.

The second volume, ‘Falling’ although three thousand words shorter, was never as rough cut as the first. Ergo, there is less work involved in bringing it up to scratch. The release of the updated and improved ‘Falling’ will follow shortly as an eBook. All the old print to order versions, with all their myriad faults have been ‘retired’. Better, cleaner, more well formatted versions will shortly be available. The same will happen with all my other Novellas, short stories and Paul Calvin novels. Over the next year I intend to throw a lot of mud at the wall. See what sticks.

Self publishing is truly a steep learning curve, and we all leave skid marks on those unexpected corners. Projects end up nose down in the ditch, and require more than a metaphorical winch and Turtle wax to put back in good working order. Doesn’t mean they’re no good, it just means a little more work is needed. Fortunately there’s scope and opportunity to do that.

‘Darkness’, the third volume of the Stars trilogy remains a troublesome work in progress. It is hard to keep the main story on track. There are so many probability chains to follow I’m currently finding it too easy to run up any one of the many blind narrative alleys. Like a Minoan Labyrinth, I know where the end should be and am equipped to slay the Minotaur, but I’m still not quite sure how to get to my desired conclusion.

The UK trip looms ever closer, and I’m viewing it with mixed feelings. I’ll be passing through Truro, Bristol, Stratford, Claverdon, and a few other of my old stamping grounds. As well as popping over to Ireland and the Hague. Catch up on news of the old places. Peoplewatch. See family. Openly wonder at how crowded and congested it is. Take my own cream into coffee shops because ‘Head office’ has decreed their outlets will not serve cream in case they get sued for clogging the nations already stress-hardened arteries.

I’ve amused myself in the Stars and Cerberus series poking a little fun at all these demands for bans and regulation on everything remotely pleasurable. One of the questions I repeatedly pose is; what would it be like to live in a world where wine and beer are strictly rationed, and spirits, tobacco, chocolate and meat are completely banned? Where the only permitted protein in the public diet is derived from blocks of ‘Go-Quarn’, a Tofu like substance, promoted as part of a ‘healthy vegetarian diet’. Which is derived from leftover humans – look up ‘Soylent Green’. Did I say I’ve got a dark sense of humour?

That’s all for now. Off to the day job.