Friday, August 31, 2012

My Word Archiving Macro.

This little macro saved my ass more times than I can count. Open a word document, click this macro (it isn't automatic) and it will save a copy of the work (as YourTitle Time Date.DOC) to a USB drive, and an archive folder on the HD. Yes, it will, from then on until you close the document, continue making unique archives of the document every 20 minutes (or whatever you tell it to).

But wait, it gets better.

It also will leave an easily findable bookmark wherever the cursor is at the time, I use @@. Turning this feature on during editing lets you easily find your place and pick up where you left off again, and it ensures you never lose more than 20 minutes worth of work due to blue screens or power outages.

It's actually two macros

Sub Archiving()
' Turns Archiving on
'These are the default settings that work for me
BackupFolder = "G:\word\" 'Sets Where it archives it to
TimeChange = "00:20:00" 'Sets autoSave Time
TriedIt = False
On Error GoTo Skip
Open "c:\program files\archives.txt" For Input As #1
Input #1, b
Input #1, T
Input #1, bb
Input #1, PlaceMarker
GoTo SkipOver
If TriedIt = False Then
Call ChangeSettings
TriedIt = True
GoTo TryAgain
End If
If PlaceMarker = "NONE" Then PlaceMarker = ""
If b <> "" Then BackupFolder = b
If T <> "" Then TimeChange = T
Close #1
If True = ActiveDocument.Saved Then GoTo tink
d = Now
For e = 1 To Len(d)
If Mid(d, e, 1) = "/" Then Mid(d, e, 1) = "-"
If Mid(d, e, 1) = ":" Then Mid(d, e, 1) = "-"
Next e
a = ActiveDocument
If Left(a, 8) = "Document" Then
a = ActiveDocument.Range(0, 15).Text
For e = 1 To Len(a)
If (Mid(a, e, 1) >= "a" And Mid(a, e, 1) <= "z") Or _
(Mid(a, e, 1) >= "A" And Mid(a, e, 1) <= "Z") Or _
(Mid(a, e, 1) >= "0" And Mid(a, e, 1) <= "9") Then zork = 1 Else Mid(a, e, 1) = " "
a = InputBox("Please change from the generic name " + a, , a)
If a = "" Then a = "Document " + d + ".doc"
If Left(Right(a, 4), 1) <> "." Then a = a + ".doc"
End If
If Len(ActiveDocument.Path) < 2 Then
oldn = "C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Desktop\" + a
oldn = ActiveDocument.Path + "\" + a
End If
newn = BackupFolder + Mid(a, 1, Len(a) - 4) + " " + d + Mid(a, Len(a) - 3, 4)
If bb <> "" Then
bb1 = bb
bb = bb + Mid(a, 1, Len(a) - 4) + " " + d + Mid(a, Len(a) - 3, 4)
End If
' This inserts an easy to find tag where you are curently looking
If PlaceMarker <> "" Then
Selection.TypeText Text:=PlaceMarker
End If
On Error GoTo Problem
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=newn, FileFormat:= _
wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:= _
False, WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:= _
False, SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, _
If bb <> "" Then
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=bb, FileFormat:= _
wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:= _
False, WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:= _
False, SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, _
End If
' Removes the easy to find tag
If PlaceMarker <> "" Then
End If
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=oldn, FileFormat:= _
wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:= _
False, WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:= _
False, SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, _
GoTo tink
MsgBox "An Error in saving occurred" & Chr(13) & "Check Path " _
& BackupFolder & Chr(13) & "Or" & Chr(13) & bb1, , "Error"
' This makes it repeat the Rchive later
Application.OnTime When:=Now + TimeValue(TimeChange), Name:="Archiving"
StatusBar = "Rchiving ON ..." & TimeChange
TimeRemaining = Now + TimeValue(TimeChange)
End Sub
Sub ChangeSettings()
' AutoSave/Archiving settings
BackupFolder = "G:\word\" 'Sets Where it archives it to
TimeChange = "00:20:00" 'Sets autoSave Time
' Gets where and when from file
On Error GoTo Frog
Open "c:\program files\archives.txt" For Input As #1
Input #1, b, T, bb, PlaceMarker
If b <> "" Then BackupFolder = b
If T <> "" Then TimeChange = T
Close #1
tt = T
' Asks user for changes
b = InputBox("Enter Archiving path:" + Chr(13) + _
"These Have to exist" + Chr(13) + _
"It will not make them." + Chr(13) + _
"Most useful as a Removable drive.", "Archiving Path", BackupFolder)
If b <> "" Then
If Mid(b, Len(b), 1) <> "\" Then b = b + "\"
End If
bb = InputBox("Enter Additional Archiving path:" + Chr(13) + _
"These Have to exist" + Chr(13) _
+ "It will not make them" + Chr(13) + _
"Enter nothing for skip" + Chr(13) + _
"This is most useful as a folder on the HD", "2nd Path", bb)
If bb <> "" Then
If Mid(bb, Len(bb), 1) <> "\" Then bb = bb + "\"
End If
T = InputBox("Enter Time Between saves HH:MM:SS", , TimeChange)
PlaceMarker = InputBox("This inserts whatever you enter" + Chr(13) + _
" at your current location" + Chr(13) + _
"But ONLY in the Archives to help" + Chr(13) + _
" you FIND it, (think bookmark)" + Chr(13) + Chr(13) + _
"Enter nothing for nothing, " + Chr(13) + _
" @< works well", "Place Markers", PlaceMarker)
' Updates the Where,when on the file
Open "c:\program files\archives.txt" For Output As #1
Write #1, b, T, bb, PlaceMarker
Close #1
If T <> tt Then
Application.OnTime When:=Now + TimeValue(T), Name:="Archiving"
StatusBar = "Rchiving ON ..." & T
End If
End Sub

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Troubles in publishing

It's been a long, long road to get my foot into the publishing world.


99.9% of it was discouraging as hell.

I've been 'in print' since late 2007, and have sold... depressingly few copies. Though, I have to say, my few fans are FANtastic and reviews are mostly positive. And my books keep selling, just slower than I'd like.

I'm by no means an expert, I'm still fumbling my way through all this. And Traditional Publishing is the most vicious meatgrinder-of-dreams ever invented. I've had traditional publishers ask for money to 'improve my chances' of getting read, at respected places (Mondania press). I've had publishers threaten to blacklist me. And, rarest of all, out of around 500 submissions, I had ONE rejection that was actually constructive and helpful. One, out of 500.

The 'traditional publishing' industry is in full self-destruct mode, and it couldn't happen to a bunch of more deserving people, if you ask me. They've earned their place on the ash-heap of history. There is a reason why top-shelf names are commissioning their own cover art, paying for their own editing, and self-publishing now-a-days.

At the beginning of publishing, the 'editor' would read the book, then make a decision. Sometimes, the book was so awful that they'd only read a page or two, but they did read some of it first.

Fast forward to today and the LAST thing most publishers want to read is the book. 99% of the rejections Harry Potter got were from editors that didn't bother to read any of it. They want to read your MARKETING PLAN first. And if you can't guarantee them at least 10,000 books get sold (you're in a popular band, you teach school and can assign the books be bought by students, etc), you are "wasting" their time. They only talk to "serious" authors. Yes, I've been told this too, by the editors themselves!

They want a query letter (has NOTHING to do with the book, but proves to them that you know how to 'play' the game and kiss up). Next, they want that marketing plan, and it better be spectacular (because publishers don't want to do anything to earn their money, they want the author to do all the selling for them!). Then, if those first two are great, then they'll read the book. 500 submissions, and only three of my books were ever read, by anyone, at the publishing house.

This is how Harry Potter got rejected by dozens of houses. This is why most of the books that come from first-time authors and turn into best sellers get passed over by dozens and dozens of traditional publishers before someone 'takes a chance' on them. It's because it's difficult and time consuming to actually read books. It's easy and fast to read marketing plans and queries. But that practice makes editors lazy. Readers don't care about queries and marketing plans, they judge books on content alone. And the only only only only way to find out what's in a book is to read the book. . . and that's the LAST thing traditional publishers are willing to do.

When I self-published, 6 of the top 10 books in Japan were self-published (BEFORE KINDLE). Today, 2012, 6 of the top 20 books on Amazon are self-pub with Smashwords. Same trend with the NYT list. Full self-destruction is right around the corner.

My covers... are not that great. It's amateur hour. But, you know what, I IS an amateur, even though I've put thousands of hours into this particular endeavor.

My covers feel right to me. They feel authentic. My best-looking cover is NOT my best seller. In fact, my worst cover is my best seller. If I could think of something better, that I could do with a cell-phone camera and GIMP, I would. But I'm not that good with that sort of imagery. I'm not a photographer, just isn't me.

So, what can you do?

I can't afford 'professional' covers. And even if I could, I'd spend that money on professional editing instead.

But, I get compliments on my amateur-hour editing. And I should.

I edit each book at least four times.

I'm dyslexic, so I write everything in New Courier. My first edit comes right after I type 'the end'. I read it once, straight through, no stopping and no backing up. This is mostly for obvious typos and pacing.

Second edit, I change the page size. I make the paper a half inch narrower. This changes the way the words land on each line. You'd be surprised how many typos this little trick will pop out.

I know this
this sounds wrong,
but it is
is actually true.

I know this this
sounds wrong,
but it is is actually true.

Third edit is for story plot holes, but I also change the font to Times New Roman. Again, more typos pop out this time. By now you're past the 'story' and are a little bored. This heightens your attention to minutia and sloppy details like 'didn't I already say this somewhere' and stuff like that.

Fourth edit. Save it as a PDF, open it with Reader, View, Read out loud. Now I listen to it as I read along in the word document. Your ear will catch even more typos and bad sentence structures than your eyes will. I constantly find myself saying, "Wow, that didn't sound right!". Some people will use Kindle's read to me feature and your book should sound right being read this way. It shouldn't sound confusing, and now is the time to do that.

Fifth edit. I go back in the archives to when I first typed 'the end'. I have word compare now to then, and go back through each of the changes it found and ask myself if I still agree with them.

Sixth edit. Read it one more time, this time aloud with your own lips. This step can not be skipped. It really zeros in all your dialog and sentence structure. Lastly, have it read to you by the computer again, and just listen to it.

That's the best advice I have right now.


99 cents can be just as powerful as a great cover. Readers are still a little snobbish and haven't discovered that really good books can hide behind crap covers. 99 cents and free help get them over that.

But DON'T EVER give away a crappy book, it'll do you far more harm than good.

By the end of this year, I "Should" cross over that $400 line that the IRS says is where 'hobby' ends and 'writer' begins. This'll mean I can start writing off expenses now too.

Obama swiftboating.

Obama swiftboating... will this be on a T-shirt soon?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Touchscreen Ebook for 39.99 at Ollie's

Touchscreen Ebook for 39.99 at Ollie's.

I NEVER thought I'd see the day that ebook readers were under $50! It's a great time to be alive.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stupid oral sex study

Ok, look, this is why you can NEVER trust scientists.

The following link takes you to the 'news' about a 'science' report claiming that there is a cure to morning sickness, and that's that the pregnant woman should perform oral sex on her partner, and swollow.

The 'Scientists' claim that this inoculates her to the new DNA and helps prevent the inflammation reaction to the foreign body (the baby). This is complete idiocy!

First, the 'science'.

Sperm is NOT genetically identical to the baby; at best, it's 50% of the baby's DNA. So, the 'inoculation' concept is imbecilic, and the 'scientists' involved should be fired and stripped of their degrees for gross incompetence.

Second, you can't inoculate someone through digestion and stomach acids. Inoculations never work this way. Not ever.

So, this brings us back to how such a study is ever DONE, and worse, how could anyone with a degree come up with such nonsense. SOMEONE had to Pay for this waste of time, and it undoubtedly was taxpayer funded. N.O.W. would Never fund such a thing. So, my guess is, if it wasn't funded by the Government, it was funded by a bigger pervert, like PentHouse.

So, it's obvious that like ALL studies, they started with an outcome, or conclusion, and constructed the study around it. They wanted pregnant women to do X, then they worked backwards from there to justify it.

The problem is, this IS TYPICAL.

Science has become big business. If you can afford to fund the study, a room full of 'scientists' will find a way support your desired outcomes. 95% of all global warming studies are funded by organizations like Green Peace, that want excuses to close powerplants. Governments want an excuse to implement carbon taxes, so the studies they pay for always find a way to justify it, one way or another.

The 'science' isn't always as flimsy and obviously wrong as this oral sex study, but it is ALWAYS just as distorted. Having Government pay for the studies does NOT insure the independence of the outcome. It wouldn't surprise me if Anthony Weiner got a dog-ear to fund this one.

Pocket dialed from an annoyed anDroid :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The twisted psychology of the war on Papa John's

I find psychology interesting, as most people do. And this election year is full of interesting psy-ops.

First, I've notice that ever since the president announced that he was behind the challenger in fundraising, there has been dozens and dozens of news releases about the 'evil' things the challenger's biggest donators give to.

The biggest flap, of course, was over Chic, (no pun intended).

The latest was over Papa John's.

Since the media loves a controversial story, they willingly run with anything a political hack gives them, with little interest in facts or suspicion as to the motivations behind why the story was just handed to them.

But that psychology is boringly simplistic. Dirty tricks by politicians is nothing new, and when one team starts falling this far behind in fundraising, they attack the other's donors in an obvious attempt to intimidate the donors into drying up.

But more interesting to me is the psychology behind what makes it a successful attack.

Take Papa John's and the DNC's latest smear. They're pushing for a boycott of a business (that employs thousands of loyal democrats), in an attempt to intimidate the owner into withdrawing his support. If the boycott is successful, hundreds of stores will close and thousands will be unemployed.

That's success.

That's the goal.

Even if all the stores close and go out of business, 'Papa' is still a multimillionaire. He can still donate millions every election for the rest of his life. So the goal of stopping one man is rendered meaningless.

But this is a psychological attack. It's meant to intimidate those smaller businesses that couldn't weather such a storm. It's a warning to all the mom and pops out there that may be thinking of donating a few thousand this year.

But simple intimidation is still not the end of this.

There's something more at work here.

All those thousands of Papa John's employees that the DNC is trying to get fired are the very neighbors of those tricked into doing the boycotting. These are people they see at the gas station, in the shopping mall, and on the street every day. The people that will be hurt the most by the boycotts are innocent democrats and republicans in the neighborhood. They're family and friends, not some abstract 'they' or 'him'.

So, how can the DNC (or any political party) trick their followers into destroying the lives of thousands of their neighbors in a vain attempt to punish or intimidate a donor for the opposition party?

Back to psychology.

There was a story on 60Minutes about a little mom and pop that almost never had anyone inside. It just had a mason jar full of cash, and prices on everything.

And for fifteen years, the money in the mason jar always matched what was missing from the shelves. The honor system worked, in the south.

But the question was why did it work. The bigger chains flirted with the same system, but put a jar of cash and a table of goods out in front of a Walmart or a Target and neither would last more than 15 minutes, let alone 15 years without both getting stolen.

These were the same people, in the same neighborhood.

So, why such different results?

Why could you use the honor system at a mom and pop, but not a big chain?

It's because people tend not to steal from individuals, but have little or no compunction about stealing from a big, faceless, nameless 'them'. If it's mom or pop, a mason jar will do. If it's Target or JC Penny, then you better have guards, cameras, and security.

Back to Papa John's. Politicians have discovered this trick too. If they told you to take on an action that, if successful, would destroy a business that was right down the street, and cause dozens of your neighbors to lose their jobs, nobody would ever do it. Not ever (with the exception of a few Timothy McVays out there).

BUT, if they can convince you that the company is big, and that a few cents won't really hurt them anyway, then you can get a mob of people to, with just a little prodding, destroy the stores of your choosing.

But you have to dehumanize the business first. (It wouldn't hurt to put out a few 'you didn't build that's' too)

You have to get the mob to forget, if only for the moment, that it's thousands of employed democrats and republicans, dozens of your neighbors, that you're being asked to destroy. To do it, you convince them that it's some big, goliath, heartless business, because "businesses aren't people". But when businesses fail, thousands of people are the only ones that get hurt.

Back when BP was in the news for all the wrong reasons, there were dozens of stories about gas-station owners that had sunk their life savings into opening the station. They owned it, not BP. But dozens of these senseless boycotts destroyed hundreds of these privately owned businesses. And as for BP, they sell oil to Shell and Amico, as always, and never felt a penny's difference.

I just hope, one day, we'll be able to use this trick of psychology to turn democrats and republicans into the dehumanized 'them' of politicians, so we can put them all out of business and fix this country again... But then, that's probably just the libertarian in me coming out. Forget this last paragraph, and let's go back to destroying the businesses that employ our friends and neighbors, just because a CEO or owner doesn't vote the way we want them to. We got rid of Whites-only stores, just to replace them with Democrat-only stores.

That isn't progress, if you ask me. But then, what do I know.

Monday, August 6, 2012

World hunger ends with growing food in the desert

How to grow vegetables in the middle of the desert... it's easy, you do it in a greenhouse!

I know, this is counterintuitive, but it actually works.
I came up with the design while writing Waffen, but it was one of the scenes I ended up cutting. Still, it was a good idea, so why not put it out free on the Internet (where all good ideas go to die in obscurity :)

First, the two biggest problems with growing anything in the desert is A. Water, and B. The dang heat! Using a greenhouse to solve both seems irrational on the face of it, but, believe it or not, it works. And it's unbelievable cheap too!

Materials list. A few hundred feet of plastic tubing or pipe (preferably the stuff used for radiant-heat floors), some sticks, a shovel, and two rolls of plastic sheeting, one clear (10'x200') and the other white (25'x200').

Yeah, that's more or less it! Told you it was cheap!

Start by digging a trench at least five feet down, three feet wide, and 200' East to West. Digging down allows geothermal to keep the plants cooler than they would be on the surface. Now grade it so that it will drain, preferably to one end, then line it with the white plastic. Dig two "pits" or holding tanks where the water will drain and line them with plastic.

Add topsoil back into the trench.

But wait, you say, you're in the middle of the desert! This might keep the water needed to grow plants from evaporating, but you still need an awful lot to begin with and you're still in the middle of a desert!

Ye of little faith : ) Let me continue.

Basically, the trench stays cool because it isn't all that wide and it's five feet or more below the surface. Five feet is kinda that magic zone where those geothermal air conditioners work.

All that dirt that was taken out of the trench is not going to go to waste. Run a pipe from the drain tank, slightly up grade, about five feet behind the trench along its full length.
This is the air intake. As hot air escapes the greenhouse, this will pull in fresh air. That hot air will be the long trip through the cooler dirt and the moisture will condense and be captured by the tank.
On the other side of the trench, another vent pipe travels the other way, through the same mound of dirt, and emerges at the surface. This is the exhaust vent. It too goes through the cool dirt and condenses the moisture that would otherwise have escaped the greenhouse. But unlike the intake, it's attached to a vertical piece of black pipe. The black pipe heats, the air rises, and it draws the air for you.

Eventually, even without bringing any water of your own, it'll pull enough moisture from the air to fill the tanks. But, of course, bringing your own would be faster.

Watering can be done manually at night, or first thing in the morning when the loss of moisture would be minimal for opening the greenhouse 'roof', but an automatic system isn't that difficult to rig.

A black bucket or length of pipe and some one-way valves can be used as the pump. The sun makes the air expand during the day, and the cool night makes it draw a vacuum during the night. The vacuum can be used to draw the water up into a gravity-fed soaker hose or sprinkler system.

A hand pump would also work just as well and would remove the need to open the roof and let the moisture out.

The 'greenhouse' can be shaded to regulate its temperature, if needed.

It can also be used to recapture the moisture out of the stalks and leaves as they dry and decompose inside it.

Yes, I know this design has downsides.
First, the rows have to be very narrow or else it loses its geothermal cooling. And the rows have to be spaced much further apart than conventional farming practices.

But irrigation this way is ultimately cheaper, and it would allow crops to grow in places that would be impossible otherwise.

Food for thought.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

You write it, they'll make it :)

This sort of thing was in Patent Mine and Houdini Scientist. The high-pulse power problem was solved by turning the Hypersonic jet engines into MHD generators by dumping potassium carbonate into the air mix.

Camping / survival stuff found in my books

Camping / survival stuff found in my books