Archive for the ‘Me, my life, and this blog’ Category

Simple, Easy, Obvious . . . and WRONG

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

President-elect Trump has ridden the back of a wave of anger and fear and discontent. And no one can doubt that there are people in this country with real reasons to feel all of those things.

We cannot, we must not, ignore those feelings and those causes. But we should look deep into the root causes, rather than settling for the easy solution.

President-elect Trump has made rafts of promises, explicit and implicit, that he cannot possibly keep. For example, most of the
“good jobs” have been taken away not be trade but by technology and by time.

It is a simple fact that the economy has changed. Basic manufacturing jobs were once relatively high-paying jobs, and could be filled by those people who had a minimal education and training, but who were willing to work hard and who had physical skills.

But then again, there was a time when butchers were rich, and millers were in the top tier of the middle class. That changed long ago. Farmers with a hundred acres were once well off. That changed long ago.

Those “good jobs” in manufacturing will never be “good” in the same way again. And to the extent that their successor jobs exist, there will be far fewer of the ones that pay well, and they’ll demand far more of those who fill them. That’s what a change in time and technology has done for and to us.

The remaining jobs will be low wage jobs. They’ll offer wages that will get you about what the old jobs did — but the standards of wealth and sufficiency have changed. Now, a single car, and a small house etc aren’t a good living — in the US. Now, those are good jobs for a low-wage country, but not for here.

Now, the US worker needs to be able to do things differently, or to do different things, if he or she is to earn a “good wage.”

So, President Trump may be able to kill trade deals. He may even be able to force companies to continue to manufacture in the US. But those “good jobs” and the lives that went with them are gone for good.

What will he do when he has to confront that failure?

I’m terrified, because I believe that he, and those who depend upon his promises, won’t look for answers and for solutions in the world as it is, and in the technologic and economic changes that have occurred.

I think that they’re going to look for someone to blame. And we’ll have yet another populist turned tyrant as he hunts down that mythical group of Others who are doing us harm. It’s so much easier and more satisfying to blame Them for our problems.

You can hunt down and kill Them. And you’ll feel like you’re fixing what’s wrong with your life. It’s so much easier than looking at the type of work you’ve done in the past, and saying that it’s gone, and you’ll have to find a different way. It’s so much easier than picking up your family and moving. It’s so much easier than designing a government program to help impoverished families retrain and relocate, without producing pipe dreams or a failed command economy.

But the easy answer isn’t usually the right one when you’re addressing complex problems in the real world.

You know the old saying: To every complex problem, there’s a solution that is simple, obvious, easy . . . and WRONG.

We’re clearly headed in that direction. I wish we weren’t. Ideas?

Pick Your Battles

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

In this latest election, we’ve seen the results of a very polarized electorate, among other things.

I believe that it is incumbent upon all of us to DO something about that. Each of us cares deeply about some issue, or a few issues. There are places on the Internet where we can find like-minded souls, and discuss those issues, and we tend to congregate in those places.

But there are other places, where the benighted fools who disagree with us hang out.

I’m suggesting that we each go to one of those places, and every so often enter a conversation with the people who hang out there.

Be CIVIL. Be respectful. Listen to them. And with every possible fact, bit of logic and persuasiveness at our command, try to convince them of the validity of our POV.

You’re going to get flamed. But maybe, if you keep responding politely, seriously and thoughtfully, maybe you’ll open some minds.

If we all do this, and if we respond respectfully, politely and with careful consideration to those idiots who do the same in our groups, then it is my carefully considered opinion that we might just find our way to a better society.

Or so I hope.

The old saying goes, “Pick your battles.” I’m expanding that. My version runs: “Pick your battles, but DO pick some.”

When you’ve done this, please come back, and tell me what happened.

I look forward to your comments.

BEA 2011

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Overall Impressions:

–Reed and the Javits staff have found a way to obscure the fact that it no longer fills an entire floor with exhibitors, but there was plenty of space around the edges for curtained enclosures and meeting rooms of various types.
–Despite the small number of exhibitors (or perhaps because of it), the aisles were full, and the mood seemed upbeat, enthusiastic and intent. I heard far less of the “this will be the last show” chatter.
–The “concurrent events” brought new blood into the mix. This bodes well for the future. Unfortunately, the total attendance didn’t go up with the inclusion of this new blood. That doesn’t bode as well.
–Oddly enough, I saw far fewer of the independent publishers’ booths and the denizens of Writers’ Row. It could be that the word has finally gotten out that those locations aren’t really offering the full benefit of being at the show, and that this isn’t a place where you go to sell a bunch of books on the spot.
–This was the “All Ebook, All the Time” BEA. I know that e- is the coming trend, and I certainly advocate being aware of how it can be used in your own publishing, and what the pros and cons are for your operation, but surely we could have found more topics to discuss? Maybe next year?

I attended one very interesting lecture, and yes, it was ebook-related. The presenter was from Attributor. If you publish in niches that suffer from large amounts of organized piracy, I would invest in their services. They search all of the darknet and legitimate file sharing sites (after all, there are legitimate reasons why you might need to upload things, for example team projects where people are telecommuting). When they locate files that might be caches of pirated material, use AI and expert systems to rank the most probably-pirated of the millions of files found, and then have humans examine them to prevent false positives.

Then they do a tiered enforcement action, resulting in a 99% success rate in getting the illegitimate material yanked, or converted to a revenue producing legitimate sales site.

A Chance to Do Well While Doing Good

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I have donated a 2 hour consult, plus assorted extras, to a charitable auction. I would normally charge $200 per hour for the consults, and $55 for the book and software package, so this is a $455 value. The crowd is not focused on publishing or writing, so the chances are that the item will go for a very low price. It’s here.

The auction supports The Lang School, which is a very special place indeed. They work with children who are simultaneously brilliant and learning disabled. You can probably imagine how frustrating and difficult it would be to walk in their shoes, especially in either normal or special education environments.

One of these kids could be the next Einstein, but without the support of an environment tailored to them, most will spiral into a cycle of failure, let alone realizing their potential and becoming the forces for good that they could be.

If you want to support the school, you can bid on the item above, or one of the others in the auction, at Bidding for Good. If you visit the school’s site, you can find out more, including this link for donations.

And finally, if you live in NYC, you can always come to the party, this Thursday, February 10. It’s called Cocktails at the Cabanas, and you can get a ticket here. I’ll be there, and it looks like it will be a lot of fun, as well as supporting a wonderful cause.

My First Ebook is Launching

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

If you’re a frequent visitor here, you might want to keep an eye out: I’m teetering on the edge of releasing my first ebook in a series. None of them will be long: this one’s about 33 pages of text and 13 pages of spreadsheets and charts illustrating the techniques.

I’ve found that this is about the length at which the eyes roll back in the head and the brain shuts down, so why go longer??

I hope that any of you who grab a copy will like it. I’d love to hear what you think. (And if you email me with an error or confusion, I’ll send you a free copy of the next work in the series!)

Managing Email

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Most of you probably know this already, but I hear more than a few complaints about being overwhelmed by email.

I get around 10,000 non-spam emails per month. I think the tactics I use will pay off for anyone handling more than 25 or 30 “real” emails per day. If you’re getting much more than 30,000 per month, you may need more sophisticated techniques.

Start with: spam filters.
I use a Bayesian one, and recommend this class of filters highly. They learn as you go from the emails that you mark as spam, and from the ones that you fish out of your email box as non-spam. After a few weeks of using one, you should be catching the vast majority of your spam, and have a false positive rate in around one or two tenths of one percent.

Follow with: threading.
Having your conversations collected by thread is critical. Not everyone “snips” well. (Snipping is cutting out the parts of the prior email that aren’t necessary for context, so that the whole thing isn’t miles long, and you can find the new entry whether it’s top posted or bottom. Doing it well means keeping enough but not too much to supply context.)

Next: subject filters and specialized boxes.
Most of my non-spam email comes from the listservs to which I belong. I filter all of that into special in-boxes, with one for each active list, and one for all of the inactive ones. These are all in a separate folder that I can look at when I have time.

Everything that doesn’t fit a bulk category goes into the general email box, and this tends to be either junk or urgent stuff. It also tends to be pretty small amounts.

Saving emails:
I have dozens of subject boxes, in nested folders (each layer gets more specific), and my email client program automatically indexes them for searching by subject, addressee and sender, or by keywords within the email. I take emails from my current in boxes and file them in these subject boxes when I have made whatever responses or actions are required.

To Do boxes:
If there are long-term projects or issues, I tend to create a to-do box for them, and file emails inside it, even if the action hasn’t been completed. Some of these take such a long time that my other active boxes get overwhelmed. It’s hard to keep track of more than 20 active emails in a box — or at most, 50.

Favorite time-wasting sites

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Okay, so I haven’t blogged in months. I’m still here.

Just so you don’t miss me too much, I’m sharing my favorite procrastination:

Many of you know that I’m a mom and a knitter in my "real life." If you share those characteristics, or simply share my slightly screwball sensibiity, you’ll also like the blog,So The Thing Is . . .

And now, back to our regularly scheduled (or rather IRregularly scheduled) posts. Enjoy.

Just Got My Kindle!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

And I love it! Celebrate with me!

I’ll blog more about it, and possible improvements, later.

Upcoming Seminar

Friday, November 9th, 2007

If you like what you read here, you may want to attend a webinar (seminar over the web) that I’m giving for PMA. The topic is Building a Better Budget, and you can find more information here.

Publishing professionals tend to view budgets as both intimidating and useless masses of numbers. After you take this course, you’ll be empowered to take control of the process and you’ll know how to use it as part of your strategy for success.

I hope you’ll join me, Wednesday, November 14 at 2 pm EST, or at least download the resulting recording later. This is an important tool that’s all too frequently neglected.


Sunday, June 24th, 2007

I have had a LiveJournal blog that I maintained desultorily. I am now bringing it into my site, and beginning again. Some of the earlier posts might interest you. The old link is in my blogroll. 

Do please send me questions about any aspect of publishing, except¬†submissions to publishers. I’ll be happy to try to answer.