Nov 18

Roger Goodell Does The Impossible – Proves that Unions Are Necessary

I’m an NFL football fan. But I don’t have to be, and at this moment I’m not sure I want to be due to Roger Goodell’s handling of Adrian Peterson. If you read my post on the recent announcement of Apple’s CEO then you’ll know I don’t like to support companies who have leaders who do pretty major things that make me sad. Whether they make me sad by being unfair to those under their power or by being blatantly dishonest about important matters – either way they’ve broken a trust. It’s my money and my time, so why use it to support something that makes me sad?

Roger Goodell has managed to do something nobody else has been able to do. Something I never thought was even possible. Something that the party that leans more to the left hasn’t been able to do in my 35+ years. Something my college professors couldn’t do. Something my wife’s dad who was vice president in the fire fighter union couldn’t do. Goodell’s actions have convinced me of something probably every conservative would agree is a terrible idea, which is funny because I’m pretty sure that Goodell walks on the conservative side of the political line. In any case, his decisions and actions have managed to convince me of something conservatives have fought hard to discredit. He’s convinced me that unions are still important and necessary.

Now, to be honest, all this has done it upgrade unions in my mind from “completely unnecessary and counterproductive” to a slightly more elevated state of “needed and a necessary evil“, but I honestly never thought I’d see the day that such a thought would even enter my mind. What Goodell has done to Adrian Peterson is reprehensible and inexcusable. The arbitrary punishments doled out in the face of pressure from some fans and some advertisers are understandable, but still show signs of weakness on the commissioners part. I’ve yet to see him make a proactive move in any of his dealings, and his reactive ones have only come after he’s been forced into a corner. Now he’s managed to back someone else into a corner, and even though I didn’t think I’d ever say it, I’m glad there’s a union there to back up his victim. As USA Today’s Nancy Armour put it Goodell hasn’t done anything here other than try to protect what he considers to be his turf and ended up just picking a fight with the union.

If the union really wanted to impress they’d convince players to hold out on the Thanksgiving day games coming up next week. Hell, I bet the union has enough in the coffers to write a game check to every player for that missed week. That would be glorious! I could live
with it and it would probably further strengthen my new found slightly positive opinion toward unions. Of course, they might not have to. The union might win it’s grievance hearing and Peterson will be allowed to play sooner than next year. Maybe that’s Goodell’s plan anyway. This way he can act like he tried to get rid of Peterson but the arbitrator was convinced by the big, mean union and forced his hand to let
Peterson play again this year. Maybe that’s the plan. But it shouldn’t have come to that and it frustrates me that, if that is his plan, he simply proved that unions are necessary in order to protect individuals from weak leaders.

Roger Goodell has made me sad today, but maybe I should thank him (and the other owners for continuing to support him) for opening my eyes to the truth. As long as there are leaders like Goodell, there will be a need for organized protection of workers rights. I’d still rather just get rid of the bad leaders, but even if that were the plan there would need to be some mechanism for raising awareness about bad leaders when they slip through the cracks, and I’m not sure I can think of another more functional mechanism for that very task than a union…

I guess unions are probably a little bit like firearms. They can be used wrong and can cause all kinds of damage if whoever is controlling them doesn’t make good decisions and doesn’t pay close attention to where they’re pointing their power. It’s best to not wield the power at all if possible. But in the end, it’s probably better to have one and not need it than it is to need one and not have one.

Mar 21

The EFF has it half right about open wireless

I’ve posted a couple of times about my wireless network – how I have it set up, how I’ve set it up wrong before,  how I’ve decided to keep it closed, how I’ve failed to actually keep it closed, etc. But guess what? I’m back with another installment of my wireless musings. I closed it up last time I wrote, but then I opened it because it was “easier” and now I’m probably headed back to be a scrooge until I find a good solution. So here’s a bit of background.

I run an internet related business and have a pretty decent connection running into my house. For business purposes I have several people / systems hooked up to one or more routers and they all use that internet connection.  Now, the easiest thing for me to do is to just leave the wireless network open so that no one needs to know any passwords to use it or anything like that. It would make that particular part of my life much easier if everyone could just connect and me not have to be involved in the process at all. But, alas, as I mentioned previously, there are some people out there who take advantage of the open access point. I really mean TAKE ADVANTAGE OF, not just USE. So, I go from trying to do something nice (leave the access point open) to just being annoyed at people for using excessive bandwidth and reducing the amount that my servers have at their disposal to do their job.

So bandwidth is one issue, but there’s also the issue of liability. It gives me a modicum of comfort know that the EFF thinks people with open routers should be treated as an ISP – you should get the same protection. But I haven’t really seen anything that says that you WILL get the same protection. To me, this means that if someone tries to do any of several nefarious activities utilizing my network connection that I may or may not be able to claim that the bits simply crossed over my router and be released of responsibility. I may open myself up to a hassle (or worse)… and for what? It also just now occurred to me as I type this that ISPs must maintain logs of usage for a certain amount of time. If I run an open access would I be responsible for maintaining such logs of usage? I would think that it would significantly reduce people’s desire to participate in providing open wifi if they had additional regulations to deal with.

I’ve mentioned two issues with the open router question. One is the bandwidth issue and the other is the liability issue. For the bandwidth issue I’ve recently read about (you networking gurus don’t get all high and mighty with me… I try not to know everything about this stuff and really I just want something that WORKS and that I don’t have to know HOW it works… you’ve probably known about this software for years) some custom firmware [DDWRT] that you can install on routers that allows for a LOT finer control. So, for example, you could set up a list of mac addresses to get unlimited bandwidth and then limit unknown mac address (likely your guests) to a different, lower bandwidth and even apply a usage cap per mac address. I don’t know if my router can accept this software, but I’m going to look into it. Doing so would at least alleviate the bandwidth hog issues and leave me to only worry about the liability issue.

I am working on finding a “hard and fast” answer to the liability question so if any of you out there have a resource for me that answers unambiguously how things would actually work then I’d like to hear from you. Ideally it would be case law, but educated discussion on the matter would be welcome also.

Feb 24

New Router – Wife is happy, Mom is happy, I am happy, apparently neighborhood is happy

So, I got a new router last weekend because my mom (she lives with me not the other way around) wasn’t getting hardly any signal in her room and my old router was a couple of years old so I figured there was probably some new tech that would do the job better.

I found the latest and greatest NetGear router, and let me just say “this thing rocks”! The signal is great! We’ve got GIGABIT WIRELESS capability. The range is great too… almost too good! lol.

I’ve noticed a couple of time where things just really seem to be running a bit slow as far as network connectivity was concerned. I often work late at night when, seems to me, bandwidth should be less of a problem, but I’ve found that since I got the new router that it was actually sometimes much slower! Crazy, right? Well, not really.

It turns out that when I started poking around in the admin panel to see what the deal was I found that there were quite a few more “connected devices” than the number of devices I even own much less operate regularly. It turns out that with the increased range I had apparently become the default ISP for several people in the area! This is kinda cool because it shows that it works way better (range wise). But it’s not cool because I want my bandwidth… I did not buy it for them. Plus, I run a business out of my house and I don’t need some knucklehead I don’t even know causing me trouble down the road by misusing my connection.

I spent the next 1/2 hour going through each and every page of the admin panel to make sure I didn’t leave any access means unsecured. This thing has two channels of wireless and then a guest network also. I only knew about one prior to going through all the settings! I thought about turning on logging so  I could see what the invaders were doing, but that just seemed wrong. They could have been simply passing through and some might have not even realized they were on someone elses account if their wireless had switched just because my signal was stronger. I value my privacy so I try to treat others as I would want to be when it comes to that. That being the case I simply secured all the wireless access options and cleared the logs. I’m hoping that now I’ll no longer be sharing my bandwidth with passerbys and neighbors… I’ll keep an eye on the “connected devices” for a few days to be sure, but I’m pretty sure I got it handled.

All in all, I love this router. If you have a router more than a few years old it’s probably worth looking at an upgrade. Just be sure to pay attention to your security settings (I probably accidently turned them off – I seriously doubt it defaulted to open but Ican’t be sure) and you’ll be pleased with your choice!

 

Feb 03

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Guitar Chords

I bought a guitar today. I do not have much knowledge about playing the guitar and I bought it with the intention of learning a new skill and just having a good time with it. I’m hoping to learn to play over the next few months. As will be the case with kids mine thought I am apparently a professional guitar player as soon as they saw it and within a few minutes they were begging me to play “My Little Pony Friendship is Magic” for them. Of course, I didn’t know how, but I told them I’d try to learn it. I found this video on youtube video which is an awesome electric guitar cover of the My Little Pony song. In the comment section someone posted the chord progression so I’m well on my way. Here it is if you’re interested!

The video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=rApnYmZWnzM

A link to it in case you don’t see it above.

The chords:
(D) My Little Pony,
(A) My Little Pony
(G) Ah, (A) ah, (Bm) ah, (C#) ah
(D) My Little Pony
(Bm) I used to wonder
(A) what friendship could be
(D) My Little Pony
(Bm) Until you all shared its
(A) magic with me
(G) Big adventure
(Bm) Tons of fun A
(A) beautiful heart Faithful and strong
(A) (G) Sharing kindness It’s an
(Bm) easy feat And
(A) magic makes it all complete You have
(D) My Little Pony
(Bm) Do you know you are my
(A) very best friends (G)(A)(Bm)(C#)(D)

Oct 29

10 ways for making money off of free eBooks

Ebooks are one of those things that can really divide people. But for a weird reason. Some people feel that because ebooks can be copied for free that it is somehow not as valuable to have an ebook as it is to have a hardcopy. That somehow people are being cheated when asked to pay the same prices for an ebook as they are are asked to pay for the hard copy version. In my opinion, this is just crazy talk. The value of a book is in the information / entertainment value that it provides… not its format.

So I was reading a question online the other day where someone wanted to know how they could make money off of their eBook. I’ve got atleast 8 thoughts on that so here goes (in no particular order).

1. You could embed affiliate links to other books within the ebook
2. You can offer additional content that supplements the eBook for a fee.
3. Require an email address/newsletter subscription before sending the free eBook, and then try and monetize through the future interactions.
4. Offer physical copies of the book for a fee if readers scoff at the idea of paying for the eBook.
5. Break the eBook up into smaller parts for an email newsletter series, and monetize in the newsletter
6 .Turn the ebook into a mutipage website and populate with Google Ads
7. Sell resale rights, PLR, etc.
8. Write additional eBooks and then use your free ebooks to advertise the pay books.

Basically it all boils down to providing a quality bit of content! If you’ve done that then the actual delivery method of that content can be tweaked until one or more models are found that enable a profit to be made. But in the end, the worst case, is that with the eBook you are able to set yourself up as an expert and to use it to drive more sales in later endeavors. Just make sure your work is quality!

Do you have experience with this type of endeavor? What do you think about these ideas?

Sep 13

Formatting and Final Steps in e-book Publishing

What a busy few weeks it’s been! I got what is pretty close to my final draft done on my ebook and I’ve been working on formatting and getting a book cover designed. Here’s a little about the process.

I’ve decided that step 1 will be to completely self publish. I’ll be publishing on Kindle and on Barnes And Noble because it is free to do so as long as you’re willing to do the work yourself. Since the majority of ebooks are sold through those two outlets I’m okay with temporarily missing out on the possible revenue at Apple / iTunes. I’ll also be publishing via my own website using e-junkie.com as the delivery mechanism. I’ve only been working with e-junkie for a few months, but they make my life so much easier… and it won’t cost me a penny over what I’m already paying to add my book as a product along with my existing products AND that they will deliver to customers after purchase!

My reason for skipping the Apple route is because they require an ISBN and those aren’t cheap. I did find that it would be an option to go through SmashWords and that they will give you a free ISBN when you publish through them. To publish through SmashWords you have to create a “SmashWords Edition” of your ebook (I think you just change the title page to say “Smashwords Edition” and that’s it), so I’ll definitely be doing this after I’ve got my own versions out there. Smashwords also takes a 10% cut so by self publishing to Amazon and B&N I can keep those nickels and quarters for myself and just pay the 10% commission on the places I can’t sell without their help.

After I wrote the initial book I was trying to decide how to get the book converted to the necessary formats. I was going to hire someone via elance, and the bids weren’t too bad (about $100 USD), but since I didn’t know what was involved I was uncomfortable paying just about any cost. I decided instead to go through the Smashwords Style guide to format the manuscript for auto conversion. I can’t say enough about how helpful that guide was. I read it through all the way once and then did the conversion according to the “nuclear option” mentioned. It took me about 1 day to do my 100 or so pages book, and I’m pretty confident that it will go through whatever conversions tools are out there. In the end I think I made the right decision. I saved a little bit a money and learned a lot about what Microsoft Word can do. I didn’t have to let my manuscript out into the world, and I don’t have to worry about someone doing it wrong and then me having to figure out what they did. I recommend you do it yourself when the time comes if you have the time to do it.

Now, for the cover I hired someone via elance. I posted the job, got about 15 bids in 48 hours and then just had to select the best one. I can tell you that in my bid I asked for both the cover and various banner ad sizes. The woman I selected to do the job has been great to get started with and I should have the first concept my hands in the coming days. She priced her bid very reasonably, not too expensive and not so cheap as to make think her work was cheap. I’ll let you know how it turns out and if it turns out really well I’ll post a link to her profile on elance.com to help both you and her out. As it is today I’m debating just getting the book out there without a cover so it will be available for sale. Maybe I’ll create a quick cover with just basic large friendly letters. I’m antsy because it’s a basketball related book and we’re coming up on basketball season. I don’t want to lose sales waiting on a book cover. Thoughts?

I’ve also included a few links below to things I found useful when going through this process.

http://janefriedman.com/2012/02/10/10-questions-epublishing/

How to upload to Kindle Store (pdf)

A writeup about the parts of a book and what goes in each part – a pretty awesome website (writersandeditors.com) with lots of great content for writers

That’s it for this installment. I’ll be sure to post some more once my book is actually out there somewhere. For now, good luck in your own efforts!

Jul 09

Things to consider when writing (and immediately after writing) an ebook

What are the things to consider when writing (and immediately after writing) an ebook?

Well, you’ve got to price it. How do you determine a correct price though?

You’ve got to proof read. Actually you need someone else to do it! Who can do this for you?

You’ve got to market it. How do you get the conversions up?

You’ve got to make sure that when people want to buy it that your sales system works. What are some good systems for doing this?

All of these items are atleast somewhat discussed in the article linked here. They also have a “most read articles” section that looks like those alone might be worth the read. Enjoy.

http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/after-writing-ebook-pricing-marketing-landing-pages/

Please share your ideas about any of these topics. I’m very interested to hear from those who have published successfully.

Jul 09

Ebook formatting suggestions from other site

When creating an ebook there are all kinds of questions to ask about how it should be formatted, what sections there ought to be, and more. I’m working on my first ebook which I’ve almost finished writing and I’m starting to wonder how it’s going to “look” when the time comes. I was originally just wondering if ebooks should be double spaced so I took to Google and asked “Should ebooks be double spaced?”. Genius, I know. The first link I got back was very informative and answered a whole lot more questions than just that so I figured I’d post the link so I can get to it later. So here’s the link and a few useful tidbits I got from it. Please please please visit the original page as it is more complete! These are just my notes in case the page ever disappears from the web:

http://workingwritersandbloggers.com/2010/10/07/how-to-format-a-manuscript-for-an-ebook/

In Word, format the paper using the following settings:

  • Page orientation should always be portrait. Go to Page Layout, Orientation, and choose Portrait.
  • Use double spacing. Go to Page Layout, Paragraph, and choose “double” for line spacing.
  • Use one-inch margins all the way around the manuscript. Go to Page Layout, Margins, and choose the “Normal” setting, which assigns one inch evenly around the page. Or, go to Page Layout, Margins, Custom Margins, and choose one inch for the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right settings. Leave the Gutter Setting at zero and Gutter Position at left.
  • Use Times New Roman font, 12.
  • Use a 0.5 space indent for paragraph formatting. When you arrive at a new paragraph, hit “tab” and the cursor will indent to the 0.5 mark. Use this instead of an extra line to indicate a new paragraph.

Cover

If you choose to use a graphic cover for your ebook, it will go on the very first page. This is a personal preference, however, as some authors choose to start their ebook with a typewritten title page instead. The cover image of the ebook might then be used as a graphical selling point on a website, and not used in the ebook itself.

If you are using a cover image, save the file to fit an 8.5 x 11 inch size. Any size inside of this dimension will work. Make sure the cover image is saved to 100 dpi or less to ensure that it does not increase the file size of your ebook. Save the cover image as a JPG or TIFF file.

Header

Place a header at the top of each page of your manuscript except the first (title) page. Your book title, name, and page number should be at the top. Create a separate header for even and odd pages.

Format the even pages first. Go to Insert, then Header. Scroll down through the options until you see Contrast (Even Page). Select it.

This header style is built in with page numbers/text already formatted. Enter your first and last name (or pen name) in the text section. Hit the Escape button to return to your document.

Now, choose the header for the odd pages. Go to Insert, then Header, and scroll down to Contrast (Odd Page). Click on it.

As with the even header box, you’ll see that Word has already formatted the page numbers here. Go to the top text section where it says “Type the company name” and highlight it. Type in the title of your book or manuscript.

Where it says “Type the document title” (below where you now have your book title) you can type your subtitle, or highlight the area and hit “cut” to remove. Please note: if you highlight it and just hit delete, the text “Type the document title” will remain once you return to your document. When you are finished with your header, hit Escape (“Esc”) and you are back into your document.

Notice to the Reader

The next page should be a “notice to the reader.” This page tells the reader they are allowed to download your ebook file but not sell it or pass it along to anyone else. The Notice to the Reader page will have your title once again, this time typed in about 14 point font. The copyright information, which is “Copyright © by AUTHOR NAME” should be typed in 10 point font.

On the next line, type your title in all caps in about 10 point font.

The next lines contain your publishing company information. Type the name of your publishing company and website address. If you have a post office box number for your company, this information can also be included. If the address for your publishing company is your home address, then leave that information off.

Following the publishing company name and address, list the cover art information. This should say “Cover art by NAME.” Fill in the person’s name who created the cover art. If that person is you, use your name. If you do not have a cover image for your ebook, you can skip this.

Next should be the following paragraph:

By purchasing this ebook you are stating that you are fully aware that you will be sent the ebook or download link via email and that this purchase is NOT refundable. Legally, you can save one copy of the purchased ebook to disk for your own personal use. However, it is illegal to distribute your copy to those who did not pay for it. You may not distribute the ebook to other individuals by using email, floppy discs, zip files, burning them to CD/DVD, selling them on any type of auction website, making them available for free public viewing or download on any website, offering them to the general public offline in any way, or any other method currently known or yet to be invented. You may not print copies of your downloaded book and distribute those copies to other persons. Doing any of these things is a violation of international copyright law and would subject you to possible fines or imprisonment. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information or retrieval system, is forbidden without the prior written permission of both the publisher and copyright owner of this book.

On the next line, list the ISBN if you have one. Not all ebooks will. For example, you can list an ebook on Amazon.com with their Kindle  reader without an ISBN. However, if you plan on selling your ebook on your website or blog, it’s a good idea to have an ISBN.

Accomplishments

The page following the Notice to the Reader generally lists an author’s other works or accomplishments. If you have written other books, then type out “Also by” and follow with the names of the books. If you have created a game, teaching system, or any other accomplishment related to the ebook, then list it briefly on this page. If you don’t have these items, just leave the page blank.

Table of Contents

The next page allows for an optional table of contents. Type the name of each chapter, followed by the page number. If your ebook is short and you don’t have a table of contents, you can leave this section blank.

Text

Now you’re ready to start your text! This is the exciting part of writing. Craft your ebook text using double spacing.

Resources

At the end of your ebook, you may want to include resources to direct the reader to further information. These could be links to sites, books, or any other help information related to your ebook topic.

Including links is a great idea with an ebook, but the Internet changes quickly. It’s always a good idea to put a page on your website or blog that includes updates to the links you have in your ebook. Direct readers to your website for a list of current links. That way you only have to update one location (your website or blog) and you don’t need to re-issue copies of your ebook with corrected links.

Author Page

Following the resources, include an author page. This page should be brief, with a list of your other related accomplishments or writing works. Include a small photo of yourself as well. End the bio with your website, where readers can find out more about you.

ISBN

If you have an ISBN, end your book with its listing. Put the ISBN on the final page, in the bottom right corner.

Ebook Creation

When you are finished with your entire ebook manuscript, save the file as a PDF. This is the standard format for ebooks that are sold off of personal websites or blogs, as well as distributors such as Lightning Source.

May 26

Writing, Creating, Publishing, and Selling Ebooks

I’m going to be trying to finish creating my first ebook and then offer it for sale over the next month or so and this page is my initial “notes” for how to go about it. When I come across some useful concept  I’ll either add a link here or add a page to the new Ebook Publishing HowTo category.

The first resource I have to recommend is a website called smashwords to which you basically upload your manuscript and it converts and then sends it to various publishing sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and more. The first link describes their service, but at the bottom of the page it has a link to several articles about how to be successful in publishing ebooks. They look like pretty good resources.

http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords

The second link is a to a page where you can download their free book about how to format your ebook.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52

I haven’t used the smashwords.com service so I’m only recommending them as a potential option and as a resource to learn from. If I decide to use them as my distributor then I’ll definitely post a review.

Dec 04

IF (by Rudyard Kipling)

True in sports, business, and life in general:

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!