Books, Computers, CREATIVE, JUST SAYING, RANDOMIZER9.COM, Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories, TECH, Writing

Mac Musings

Buy me now!

I own a 24-inch iMac.  I bought it when I had some extra money on my hands and I wanted to see how ‘the other half’ lived.  I’d also had a Gateway crap out on me after just three years.  The iMac came with Leopard, which I obediently upgraded to Snow Leopard, and I haven’t upgraded OS X since.  Yeah, I know, I’m a terrible iPerson for not shelling out the cash for Lion or Mountain  Lion or Griffin or Hydra or whatever their next update is going to be called, but I have no desire to.  I appreciate that OS X is probably wonderful for people that ‘aren’t into computers,’ but I am not one of those people.

In addition to Snow Leopard, my iMac boots into Windows 7.  To further add insult to injury, I keep a Windows XP virtual machine handy in OS X for when I need to do ‘real’ computer work, because OS X just doesn’t do it for me.

I cut my teeth on MS-DOS 3.1 and remember futzing around with AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS in order to play Wing Commander.  I remember making a 3.5” bootable floppy with a batch file I wrote called Kenny on it for those inevitable times when I would have to reformat my PC after poking at Windows 98 too many times with a sharp stick.  Plug n’ Play started out as Plug and Pray and we all wondered why we had to reboot our machines after changing the lousy screen resolution.  The Unix lab at the University was for Computer Science majors only and the servers had monitors that were as big as my TV set back home.  I remember the sysadmin telling us to clean out our core dumps when the drives filled up, and one guy being labeled “The JPEG King” because his directory was full of megabytes (yes, MEGABYTES) of porn, which was promptly deleted by the sysadmin.

Good times, and yes, I mean that seriously.  For folks like me, part of the fun of owning a computer is goofing around with it and watching what happens.  I don’t do that much anymore, partially because Windows 7 is pretty darn good, and partially because I’d rather be putting words together instead of spending hours under the virtual hood of my PC.

I completed the final text draft of my next e-book “Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories” a few days ago, and all that remained for me to do was take those words, squash them into an e-book, and upload it to the iBookstore for all to see and buy.  Of course, uploading it into the iBookstore would mean I would have to boot into OS X and send the .epub file to them using Apples super-special uploader program (iTunes Producer) because it, of course, its OS X only.

The first time I had tried to do so for “The Rules of Tech Support,” I encountered a problem with the .epub file I was trying to send.  The file worked just fine in Kindle, worked just fine on Nook and even passed ePub validation, but it just wasn’t good enough for Apple.

Luckily, Apple technical support helped me make my file Apple-friendly and all was well.  I was a little miffed to find out that the problem was that one line was missing from a specific file.  This time, I knew that I had to add that one line before trying to send the file to Apple.  I added the line, recreated the file, and waited for the upload to complete so I could start waiting for someone at Apple to bless it and put it up for sale.

The second time, for “One Sheet Stories” the process went without a hitch, so I was baffled, because this time I got a different error.  Crap.

I sent an error report to Apple, but I knew from previous experience that I was going to have to wait until at least until the next day to get a response.  To Apple’s credit, I always get a response within 24 hours whenever I send error reports, but I wanted my book uploaded now.  On a hunch, I fired up the aforementioned Windows XP virtual machine, did the exact same thing I did in OS X.  I resent the file and was rewarded with success.

While I was happy to have accomplished my goal, I was irked that OS X had failed me where Windows had handled the task with aplomb.  Sadly, if I wish to continue publishing e-books onto the iBookstore, I will need to keep the iMac, but like any good geek, I will always have a backup Windows machine handy.

Books, BUSINESS, CREATIVE, One Sheet Stories, RANDOMIZER9.COM, TECH, TECH SUPPORT, The Rules of Tech Support, Writing


UPDATE: The free promotion for “The Rules of Tech Support is now over, but you can still get “One Sheet Stories” for free!

My second e-book “The Rules of Tech Support” is available for free today via Amazon Kindle devices and software, and of course, you can always get “One Sheet Stories” for FREE here!”

Books, CREATIVE, JUST SAYING, RANDOMIZER9.COM, Tablets, TECH, TECH SUPPORT, The Rules of Tech Support, Writing

To Think Different, DO Different

I have been working on my second e-book, titled “The Rules of Tech Support,” for what seems to have been way too long.  Now, it isn’t a very long work, and I have already written some of it on my old LiveJournal and on my podcast. For the longest time, though, it sat at about 80% completed.  I just couldn’t get any farther; I would sit behind my laptop, fire up Microsoft Word, tap Ctrl-End to get to the end of the document, and…nothing.  For months, absolutely no progress.

The project eventually got back on track.  It was either because I started working in tech support again, or because I found myself writing in different places.  As odd as it sounds, I am convinced that writing in different places or in different ways helps the creative process along.  In my case, I found myself taking notes in between calls during work, and even stayed in late at the office one day, spending a whole hour alone just typing away.  Somehow being at the office made me think different.  Heck, I think that using my tablet instead of my laptop helped.

What I’m trying to say is that you cannot ‘think different’ if you are doing the same thing over and over again.  To change my thought processes, I had to change where I was doing my thinking.  If nothing else, its a good excuse to hang out at a coffee shop or diner for a few hours.

Books, BUSINESS, CREATIVE, One Sheet Stories, RANDOMIZER9.COM, Writing

Sheet Happens

I recently published my first e-book: “One Sheet Stories” on It is a collection of five very short stories, each of which fit on a single sheet of paper.  I’m not making a big fuss about it yet, I’m waiting for it to be approved for inclusion into their Premium Catalog, which would put it on the iPad Bookstore, Sony Reader, Nook, and lots of other places it will be easier to find.

It was surprisingly easy to do, or at least it was after reading over their style guide a few times to make sure my Word doc survived their affectionately named “Meatgrinder” program.  I had fun putting it together and now I can get to work on future books.

I’m also going to work on this website, so if things look weird the next time you drop by, well, that’s just me kicking the tires on some new themes.